'Injustice': PM Modi Hits Out at Opposition-Ruled States Over High Fuel Prices
The prime minister's comments were made at a meeting with chief ministers on the COVID-19 surge in the country.
Taking a dig at Opposition-ruled states, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday, 27 April, said that some states had refrained from reducing Value Added Tax (VAT) despite the Centre's lowering of excise duty last year, and that the citizens of these states had been suffering "injustice" due to higher fuel prices.
At a virtual meeting with the chief ministers of the various states, PM Modi said, "In order to reduce the burden on the country's citizens, the central government lowered the excise duty on petrol and diesel last November. We had also requested the states to reduce their taxes and transfer the benefit to their residents."
"Some states reduced taxes as per the central government, but some states did not give any such benefit to their residents. Due to this, the prices of petrol and diesel in these states continue to remain high. In a way, this is not only an injustice to the people of these states but it also has an impact on neighbouring states."PM Modi
"Due to some or the other reason, some states like Maharashtra, West Bengal, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Jharkhand did not slash VAT on fuel. The burden of high prices continued to stay on the citizens. I won't go into how much revenue these states gained during this time," he added.
The prime minister said that he was not criticising anyone but merely appealing to the states to do abide by the central government's relaxation in the interests of their citizens.
The PM's statements come amid a steep rise in rates of fuel, which have been increased manifold since Assembly elections in five states terminated in March.
"Had Karnataka not cut taxes, it would have collected an additional over Rs 5,000 crore in revenues during the last six months. Gujarat would also have collected Rs 3,500-4,000 crore more. These states took a positive step for the benefit of their citizens. But the neighbouring states of these earned Rs 3,500-5,500 crore revenue in the last six months."
The central government in November had reduced excise duty on petrol and diesel by Rs 5 and Rs 10 respectively.
Meanwhile, Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Hardeep Singh Puri wrote on Twitter, "BJP ruled States have a VAT on petrol & diesel in the range of ₹14.50 to ₹17.50 /ltr, while taxes levied by states ruled by other parties are in the range of ₹26 to ₹32 /ltr. The difference is clear. Their intent is only to protest & criticise, not extend relief to the people"
"Ever wondered why air ticket prices haven’t come down? Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) constitutes about 40% of the cost of airline operations. But West Bengal, Maharashtra and Delhi impose massive 25%+ VAT on ATF while BJP states UP & Nagaland & UT of J&K charge just 1%," he added.
"Such hypocrisy of opposition ruled states. PM Modi Ji ensures affordable air travel to common citizens with his vision of ‘हवाई चप्पल से हवाई जहाज़ तक’ but these states create impediments. They manufacture protests against ‘oil prices’ but fleece the people to fill their coffers," he further said.
The prime minister's comments were made at a meeting with chief ministers on the prevailing COVID-19 situation in the country.
'COVID Challenge Not Yet Surpassed': PM Modi Advises Caution After Meet With CMs
In light of the ongoing COVID-19 situation in the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday virtually met with the chief ministers of all states and urged people to 'stay alert', as another wave seems imminent.
"Despite managing the COVID crisis well as compared to other countries, we can see cases' uptick in states now. We have to stay alert. It's clear that the COVID challenge has yet not been surpassed," the PM told reporters after his interaction with the state heads.
The PM added, "It's a matter of pride for every citizen that 96 percent of our adult population has been vaccinated with the first dose of the vaccine and 85 percent of the eligible population above 15 years of age inoculated with the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine."
Pushing for further coordination between central and state administrations, the PM stressed on the importance of 'cooperative federalism'.
"Scaling-up of manpower and medical infrastructure was also discussed in today's COVID review meeting," Modi indicated.
The PM urged all states to prioritise safety audits of all hospitals, as heatwave conditions prevail all over the country, causing increased fire incidents. "Our response time should also be minimal," the PM added.
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