Scrap cess on petro prices, KTR urges Centre

TRS working president and Minister K.T. Rama Rao has demanded that the Central Government take steps to reduce prices of petroleum products in line with the declining prices of crude oil in the international market and provide at least some relief to consumers who are burdened with taxes ever since the BJP government took the reins.

Mr. Rama Rao wondered why the Centre was not reducing the petrol prices in spite of the fact that crude oil prices in the international market dropped below US $ 100 a barrel. The inefficient policies and rule of the current dispensation had imposed huge burden on people and the hollowness in the claims of the Central Government citing international prices as reasons for high petro prices stood exposed now.

“Prices of crude in international markets had been on the decline ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi Government came to power. The prices, however, continue to rise in the country,” he said. He accused the Centre of increasing excise duties and collecting cesses from people rather than passing the benefit of reduced prices on to the consumers. “Petro prices have been on the upward spiral since Mr. Modi Government took over. The government is serving the interests of corporates at the expense of the common man,” he alleged adding that the Centre was gradually diluting all the institutions created for public good.

Mr. Rama Rao was critical of the Centre for collecting ₹26 lakh crore in the name of taxes and cess on petroleum products and alleged that the huge amount of money was utilised for waiver of corporate debts. “It is evident that Mr. Modi is concerned only about the corporates and not the common man,” he said.

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He recalled how Mr. Modi criticised the previous Government headed by the Congress for its inability to control the rising petro prices. “Will Mr. Modi accept his failure in checking the spiralling rise in prices ever since he took over?” he asked.

Crude prices which were at US $ 110 a barrel in 2014 dropped to US $ 50 a barrel in 2015 and to US $ 27 a barrel in 2016. The price per barrel dropped to as low as US $11 during the peak COVID-19 period, but the Government headed by Mr. Modi did not reduce the prices commensurately. The Central Government’s own estimates reveal that excise duty on petrol increased by 54 per cent in the first three years of the BJP rule while that on diesel by a huge 154 per cent during the same period.

In addition, the Centre was trying to usurp the excise duties collected by the States in the name of cesses for weakening them financially. “The Centre is filling its coffers in the name of cesses. Reduction in duties and cesses, other than the Central taxes, will save around ₹30 a litre providing the much-needed relief to consumers,” he said.

He expressed concern over the cascading effect the rise in petroleum prices had on the prices of other commodities and said middle class and poorer sections were suffering hardship due to inflationary pressures on account of the petro prices. “The Centre is however shedding crocodile tears,” he said.

He demanded that the Centre scrap all the cesses imposed on petroleum products in view of the high inflation, loss of employment due to lockdown and other factors.

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