New Delhi: The Congress on Saturday hit out at the Narendra Modi government over the steep excise duty price hike in petrol and diesel by Rs 3 per litre and demanded that the benefit of reduced international crude oil prices should be passed on to the people and the rates of petroleum products be reduced by at least 35-40 per cent.
Addressing a press conference at the party headquarters here, senior Congress leader Ajay Maken said, “The government hiked excise duty on petrol and diesel by a steep Rs 3 per litre to garner about Rs 39,000 crore additional revenue as it repeated its 2014-15 act of not passing on gains arising from slump in international oil prices.”
The former Union Minister said that with this, the total incidence of excise duty on petrol has risen to Rs 22.98 per litre and that on diesel to Rs 18.83 per litre.
“The tax on petrol was Rs 9.48 per litre when the Modi government took office in 2014 and that on diesel was Rs 3.56 a litre,” he said, comparing the UPA government decisions.
He alleged that the central excise duty has been hiked more than a dozen times since BJP came to power in 2014. “Excise duty has been increased by 149.78 per cent on petrol and 444.22 per cent on diesel by Modi government since May 2014 as excise duty on petrol and diesel was Rs 9.2 per litre and Rs 3.46 per litre in May 2014, which has been increased to Rs 22.98 and Rs 18.83 per litre respectively,” he said.
Maken also said that the monstrous taxes levied by the Modi government have resulted in the skyrocketing petrol and diesel prices, which is major cause of rising transportation costs and resultant inflation.
Hitting out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, the Congress leader said, “Modi-Shah government must pass on the relief of record low crude oil price to the people of India against the stagflation and rising unemployment by lowering petrol/diesel/LPG rates in consonance with the huge fall in international crude oil prices.”
Citing the international crude oil prices hitting the record low, Maken said crude oil prices are all time low in the last 15 years, down to US $35-38 per barrel, yet petrol and diesel prices are skyrocketing, while the common people, the middle class, the farmers, the transporters and small and medium businesses are bearing the brunt of high petrol rates.
He accused the BJP government of robbing more than Rs 16 lakh crore in the last five years by charging exorbitant taxes on petrol-diesel. “Adding the present 3.4 lakh crores, the BJP government in total would have made a profit of Rs 20 lakh crore,” he claimed.
He said the ill-directed anti-people policies of the BJP government are responsible for the high prices of petrol, diesel and LPG despite crude oil consistently remaining down to less than fifty per cent for the last six years.
“Petrol and diesel should be brought under the GST. The hike in excise duty or customs duty effected by Modi government since May 2014 on petroleum products should be withdrawn immediately until it is brought under the GST regime,” he added.