New Delhi: The Congress on Saturday hit out at the government over the hike in excise duty on petrol and diesel, demanding that the benefit of reduced international crude oil prices should be passed on to the people. Congress' senior spokesperson Ajay Maken said the government should reduce the rates of petrol, diesel and LPG by at least 35-40 percent.
He said the Congress will strongly raise the issue both inside and outside Parliament to democratically pressure the government to pass on the benefit of low international crude oil prices to the people.
The government on Saturday hiked excise duty on petrol and diesel by a steep Rs 3 per litre each to garner about Rs 39,000 crore additional revenue. In 2014-15 too, the Centre had not passed on to the public the gains arising from the slump in international oil prices. Industry officials, however, said retail prices of petrol and diesel will not be impacted by the tax changes as state-owned oil firms have adjusted them against the recent fall in oil prices and the likely trend in the near future.
Maken said the total incidence of excise duty on petrol has risen to Rs 22.98 per litre and that on diesel to Rs 18.83 per litre. The tax on petrol was Rs 9.48 per litre when the Modi government took office in 2014 and that on diesel was Rs 3.56 a litre, Maken said, adding that the central excise duty has been hiked more than a dozen times since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power.
"The Modi-Shah government has looted the people by increasing excise duties and huge taxes on petroleum products and did not bring this under GST despite the consistent demand of Congress," he said. "The ill-directed anti-people policies of the BJP government are responsible for the high prices of petrol, diesel and LPG despite crude oil consistently remaining down to less than 50 percent for the last six years," Maken said.
Highlights of Congress Party Briefing by Shri @ajaymaken, Senior Spokesperson, AICC.
— INC Sandesh (@INCSandesh) March 14, 2020
The Congress demands that the benefit of reduced international crude oil prices should be forwarded to the people and the rates of petrol, diesel and LPG be reduced by at least 35-40 per cent, Maken said, adding that petrol and diesel should be brought under the GST.
The Congress also demanded that the hike in excise duty/customs duty affected by the Modi government since May 2014 on petroleum products should be withdrawn immediately until it is brought under the GST regime.
Member of the Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Board Nilesh Shah has himself conceded that the government has earned a profit of Rs 3.4 lakh crores by not passing on the benefits of reduced oil prices to the consumer, Maken said.
International crude oil prices are at present the lowest in the last 15 years, down to USD 35-38 per barrel, yet petrol and diesel prices are skyrocketing while the common people, the middle class, farmers, transporters and small and medium businesses are bearing the pain of high petrol rates, Maken said.
In Dollar terms, the international crude oil prices are down to the level of June-July 2004, when petrol, diesel and LPG were available at Rs 35.71, Rs 22.74 and Rs 281.60 per cylinder respectively, which were quite cheap in comparison to the present rates, he said. "For the last six years, the government and oil marketing companies have been making huge windfall gains amounting to lakhs of crores per year," Maken alleged.
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Updated Date: Mar 14, 2020 17:01:00 IST