Bharat bandh: Opposition parties observe shutdown across states against rising fuel prices

Ivan Schwartz
September 11, 2018

In the 13 days between August 29 and September 10, petrol and diesel prices have risen daily; in the case of petrol from Rs 81.45 to 84.06, and in the case of diesel from Rs 74.74 to Rs 77.98. The increase pushed the petrol price in Delhi to Rs 80.50 per litre. Diesel rate touched its highest level of Rs 72.51 a litre.

Many working families are leaving the national capital due to "illegal" sealing of non-polluting household industries, Delhi Congress president Ajay Maken alleged at the party's "Halla Bol" rally at Trinagar on Sunday.

Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje on Sunday announced a 4% reduction in Value-Added Tax on petrol and diesel, which will reduce prices by ₹2.5 per litre.

However, many feel that by attributing the price hike only on worldwide factors must be taken with a pinch of salt, the BJP government is trying to shrug away its own responsibility of bringing fuel prices under the ambit of the Goods and the Services Tax (GST).

On Monday, the petrol per litre in Andhra Pradesh were sold at Rs ₹ 85.60 and diesel at Rs 79.22 per litre. The Central government however, does not see a significant change in tax rules as the excise duty imposed is based on the quantity of petrol and diesel.

State governments are seeing their coffers being filled with the rise in fuel prices.

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After refusing any cut in sales tax for over two years, the LDF government finally slashed the sales tax. This led to its excise collections from petro goods more than doubling in the last four years - from Rs 99,184 crore in 2014-15 to Rs 2,29,019 crore in 2017-18.

Mumbai has the highest tax rates among the metros. "Even states like Bihar, Kerala and Punjab are not in a position to cut state levies on petrol/diesel", the official said. "We pass on over 40% of the taxes that we collect to the states".

Rising fuel prices has been cause of grave concern in the country since the past couple of months. "Inflation was 4.1 per cent in Vajpayee government, 5.8 per cent in UPA-1, 10.4 per cent in UPA-2 and in current NDA around 4.5 per cent average".

In Kolkata, the price of petrol has been increased to ₹83.27 per litre while the diesel price has gone up to ₹75.36 per litre.

"The government can not disturb fiscal maths by cutting excise duty", he said.

Other reports by GizPress

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