Two days after deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar said the state government is unlikely to reduce VAT on petrol and diesel in Maharashtra, the state Congress president, Nana Patole, has called upon the government to follow the Punjab and Rajasthan model in this regard. Both the Congress-ruled states have cut the VAT after the Centre reduced excise duty on petrol by Rs 5 and diesel by Rs 10 per litre.
The ruling partners in the MVA government, the NCP and Congress, are pitted against each other on this contentious issue, especially when the BJP has slammed the state government for its inaction.
Patole said, “The Central relief is only on paper and has not been extended to the public. The Congress governments in Punjab and Rajasthan have reduced taxes on petrol and diesel. Similarly, the Congress party has demanded that the Maharashtra government should give relief to the people by doing the same.” He however, claimed that the BJP-led Centre has taken away Rs 30,000 crore as revenue from the states by increasing cess on petrol and diesel.
Interestingly, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, in Nagpur on Wednesday supported his nephew Ajit Pawar who holds planning and finance departments over the state government’s move not to cut the VAT. He said the Centre should first clear the long-pending GST dues to the state. On his part, Ajit Pawar also said that the state government will have to find a middle way to provide relief to people while not allowing the state’s income to dwindle.
Meanwhile, Patole said the Centre, at present, levies a central excise duty of Rs 27.90 on petrol and Rs 21.80 on diesel. As per the rules, the state was supposed to get Rs 11.16 on petrol and Rs 8.72 on diesel. In 2020-21, the state government was given only 56 paise instead of Rs 13.16 per litre on petrol and only 72 paise instead of Rs 12.72 on diesel, he added. He further said that the Central government imposed a road development cess of Rs 18 and an agricultural cess of Rs 4 but the state does not get its share from the cess collected.
Patole said, “As a result, the reduction in excise duty has reduced the share received by the states. By levying cess, the Centre is looting the common public as well as the states. Despite the low price of crude oil in the international market, the Modi government continues to rob the people by selling petrol at the inflated rates of Rs 110 and diesel at Rs 100 per litre.”
He argued that petrol should have been priced at Rs 60 per litre in view of the declining crude oil prices in the international market but the Central government is not keen on giving any relief to the public and is thereby damaging the economy.
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