Hours after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced the excise duty cut on petrol and diesel, the Congress on Thursday termed the decision as ‘insignificant’ and posed multiple questions to the government pertaining to central taxes on fuel, gas prices and rupee. Earlier in the day, the government had announced a Rs 2.5 cut in the prices of petrol and diesel — Rs 1.5 excise duty cut and Re 1 will be absorbed by oil companies.
In a press briefing held immediately after the announcement, Congress communication in-charge Randeep Surjewala said that the government has attempted to apply band-aid on the thousand wounds inflicted by it by massive profiteering in the prices of petroleum products.
“When Congress demitted power in May 2014, Central Excise Duty on Petrol was merely Rs 9.23 per litre. Modi Govt has raised it to Rs 19.48/litre. In May 2014, Excise Duty on Diesel was merely Rs 3.46 per litre. Modi Govt has raised it to Rs 15.33 per litre. Giving a paltry relief of Rs 1.50 per litre is insignificant and like a needle in the haystack,” Surjewala said.
He also questioned the government on exporting the petroleum products to some of the countries at much cheaper rates. Surjewala said: “Petrol and diesel in India are sold in the range of Rs 84 -Rs 91 from and Rs 75 to Rs 80 respectively (Delhi & Mumbai) but an RTI reply has revealed that Modi govt is selling Petrol to 15 foreign countries at just Rs 34 per litre and selling Diesel to 29 foreign countries at a pittance of Rs 37 only. These countries include -England, Australia, America, Malaysia and Israel.”
Meanwhile, following the Centre’s call for a cut in taxes, three BJP-ruled states Assam, Gujarat and Maharashtra governments announced that they would slash state tax VAT by Rs 2.5 on petrol and diesel. With this, the total cut of taxes will now go up to Rs 5.
All three chief ministers announced their decisions on Twitter. Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said: “In order to ease burden on common people and in tandem with the announcement of FM Arun Jaitley to cut prices of petrol and diesel by Rs 2.50, Govt of Assam has decided to reduce tax on petrol and diesel prices by Rs 2.50 thereby making them cheaper by Rs 5 in Assam.”
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis thanked the Prime Minister’s for tax cut move and announced that the state government has decided to give additional relief of Rs 2.5 per litre on petrol to give a total benefit of Rs 5 per litre in the state. Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani in a tweet said: “Finance Minister Sh Arun Jaitley Ji has announced Rs.2.5 cuts in petrol and diesel prices, reciprocating positively to FM’s announcement, the Govt of Gujarat has also decided to reduce Rs.2.50 on both petrol and diesel. Thus petrol and diesel would be Rs 5 cheaper in the State of Gujarat.”