Facing flak from within and outside the Congress for withdrawing subsidy on cooking gas and increasing VAT on CNG and diesel, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit on Tuesday night said that her Government was “open” to reviewing the Budget proposals.

“We are open to it. There is a suggestion that we can cut down VAT on cooking gas which may result in reduction of price per cylinder by Rs 10 to Rs 15. We will examine it,” Ms. Dikshit said.

The Chief Minister's comments came after several Congress MLAs and a couple of her Cabinet colleagues expressed disappointment over the decision to withdraw the subsidy on LPG cylinders. Opposition BJP has already opposed the budget proposals.

“I hope the Finance Minister will consider the suggestion to remove VAT component on LPG cylinders,” the Chief Minister said.

She was replying to a question on whether the Government will review its decision on withdrawing subsidy on cooking gas and increased VAT on a number of items.

Presenting the budget, Delhi Finance Minister A. K. Walia on Monday had announced withdrawal of the Rs 40 subsidy on LPG cylinders for domestic consumers besides an increase in VAT for diesel and CNG.

BJP threat

Slamming the decision, the BJP has threatened to start a massive agitation against withdrawing subsidy on LPG.

Officials hinted that the Government may try to readjust the price of cooking gas by reducing tax on it. They said it may also review its decision on increasing VAT on CNG.

“Our's is a sensitive Government. We always try to address the problems of the common man,” Ms. Dikshit said.

A five per cent tax was imposed on the Compressed Natural Gas, the fuel used for public transport like buses and auto-rickshaws. At present, there is no VAT on CNG.

Yesterday, the Chief Minister had justified the hike saying the Government was facing severe fund crunch due to huge spending on various projects linked to the Commonwealth Games.

The Government's decision to withdraw subsidy on LPG has also not gone well with the women's wing of the Congress party, which also demanded a reversal of the decision.

“So much hike is not proper...We expect the Delhi Government to take back the decision,” All-India Mahila Congress president Prabha Thakur said.

She said due to the increase in the price of cooking gas, women in the Capital are feeling the pinch and being a woman, she (Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit) should reconsider the decision.

Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi, however, sought to defend the hike saying when Delhi is going to have world class infrastructure for the Commonwealth Games, the “people would not grudge a minimal hike”. -- PTI

Keywords: New DelhiBudgetVATSheila Dikshit

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