Special Correspondent

New Delhi: West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has asked the Union Government to cut excise duties on petroleum products before seeking any reduction in the State levies. According to informed sources, this suggestion was made at a meeting in Kolkata on Tuesday with Petroleum Minister Murli Deora.

The sources said Mr. Deora had urged Mr. Bhattacharjee to give up the revenues from State taxes on the recently increased petrol and diesel prices. He met Mr. Bhattacharjee as part of countrywide discussions with State Governments on ways to ease the burden of higher oil prices on consumers.

Takes same line

Mr. Bhattacharjee is believed to have taken the same line as the Left parties in New Delhi and stressed that the Centre first needs to take action by cutting back on excise duties.Only then would West Bengal consider reducing levies, he said.

Though Mr. Deora appears to have failed in his initiative in West Bengal, the Delhi and Haryana Governments on Tuesday announced a cut in the value added tax on petrol and diesel, restricting this to the quantum by which the prices had been raised. Several other Congress-ruled States have also agreed to this proposal while Tamil Nadu has confined the tax cut to diesel.