The Central government is "bleeding" to pay the Oil bonds of Rs 1.44 lakh crore floated by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in 2012, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Monday.
Speaking on the rise in fuel prices, the Union Finance Minister said interest payment on oil bonds floated by the UPA has put a financial burden on the government.
"UPA government had reduced fuel prices by issuing oil bonds of Rs 1.44 lakh crore. I can't go by the trickery that was played by the previous UPA government. Due to oil bonds, the burden has come to our government. We are bleeding to pay the oil bonds of Rs 1.44 lakh crore of UPA government, the minister told reporters.
The minister said people are right to be concerned about the rising fuel prices but the exchequer is burdened by interest payments being made for oil bonds floated by the UPA government.
She said that the current government has paid over Rs 70,195.72 crore in interest in the last five years on oil bonds itself.
"We'll still have to pay interest of Rs 37,000 crore by 2026. Despite interest payments, a principal outstanding of over Rs 1.30 lakh crore is still pending. If I didn't have the burden of oil bonds, I would have been in a position to reduce excise duty on fuel, " she said.
Asked what the government is doing to find a solution to the problem of high fuel prices, the Minister said, "unless the Centre and states discuss a way out, there is no solution possible to this." Speaking on the retrospective taxation bill passed by parliament in the monsoon session, the Finance Minister said that she has not discussed provisions related to Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021 with any of the concerned parties.
"We will have to wait for the rules to be framed under the recent taxation amendment bill and rules will be framed soon. I will follow the law passed in the parliament. No discussions with me so far on Cairn on Vodafone. For repayment or settlement of the cases, I will have to follow the law before me," she said.
Responding to a question on the new income tax portal, the Minister said, "The glitches on the new Income are expected to be fixed entirely in the next two-three weeks." "I have been reminding Infosys constantly and Nandan Nilekani is giving me assurances that they will sort it out," she added.
Talking about the Goods and Service Tax (GST), Finance Minister said revenues are looking buoyant, and if the revenues continue like this then "I would be able to pay compensation as per the agreement (with states)." "We will have to consult with states in the council to assess the situation on repayment of borrowing beyond five years of compensation which is ending in June 2022," she added.
When asked about the government's preparation for the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, she said the third wave can be stopped with collective efforts.
"As Prime Minister said that with 'Sabka Prayas', we will be able to stop the third wave from coming with collective efforts. Vaccinations will enhance the confidence of people and we expect the upcoming festive season to be better," she said.
She added that the government is expecting the revenue to be buoyant in the coming months because demand will pick up as restrictions are lifted in several states.
Answering a question on inflation, the Minister said it will remain contained "between 2 per cent to 6 per cent inflation band".
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