The Opposition Left Democratic Front (LDF) has urged the State government to reduce VAT on diesel supplied to the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) ‘to give it a helping hand in this hour of crisis.’
Briefing mediapersons after the LDF State committee here on Friday, Front convener Vaikom Viswan said the State was charging a 19.4 per cent VAT on diesel now. This could be brought down to four per cent to offset the impact of the ‘hefty increase’ in diesel cost the KSRTC had to bear.
Another solution would be to depend on retail fuel outlets. The rate of diesel at retail pumps had gone up by 50 paise a litre following the recent rate hike, whereas, for KSRTC it had gone up by Rs.11.53 per litre because KSRTC was a ‘bulk consumer,’ Mr. Viswan said.
It was the LDF’s considered view that, ‘as a dispensation supporting all the lopsided policies of the Union government, the Oommen Chandy government should find ways to mitigate the sufferings of the people from such policies.’ It was irrational and illogical for Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) to fix a higher rate than the retail rate for diesel bought by a public utility on which the poor and the ordinary depended heavily, Mr. Viswan said.
The previous government led by the LDF had taken over a hefty bill of Rs.133 crore on diesel supplied to the KSRTC by IOC. That initiative was to regularise the supply of fuel to the KSRTC after IOC had threatened to stop supplies due to payment default. Thereafter, throughout the tenure of the LDF government, KSRTC had been current with its fuel bill settlements.
Over 40 lakh people used depended on KSRTC daily. As many as 40,000 employees and 37,000 pensioners depended on it, he said. “There will be many suicides in the State if KSRTC were to collapse,” he said.
The LDF would take out a march to the Secretariat here on Monday in protest against the ‘efforts to destroy KSRTC,’ he added.