Centre, State urged to roll back taxes on fuel

The Centre and the State should roll back the exorbitant and unjustified tax structure that causes over 60% of the retail price of fuel being levied as taxes, P.T. Thomas, MLA and Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee working president, has said.

Inaugurating an indefinite strike by office-bearers of Travel Operators Association of Kerala (TOAK) in front of the BPCL terminal at Irumpanam near here on Friday, he expressed shock at fuel price being increased 48 times after the NDA government assumed power at the Centre in 2019. “This has resulted in Central taxes accounting for 40% of its retail price and the State getting the balance 20% of the tax. The State alone gets ₹12,000 crore every year from this. This prohibitive retail pricing can be avoided if fuel is brought under the GST regime, where tax is curtailed to 27% of the retail price,” Mr. Thomas observed.

He termed as baseless the propaganda that fuel price was sky-rocketing because then UPA-1 government vested fuel companies with the power to determine retail fuel price in keeping with international prices. “The UPA’s aim was to avoid massive subsidy from government coffers. Even then, petrol cost ₹50 a litre although crude oil was selling at $145 (per barrel) in the international market. Now, petrol price has almost doubled and is hovering around ₹100, despite crude oil price halving to $77. This is nothing but robbery,” Mr. Thomas said.

CITU State secretary K.N. Gopinath, block panchayat president Raju P. Nair, and Contract Carriage Operators’ Association president Binu John spoke. TOAK State president M.S. Anil Kumar who is leading the agitation warned of stepping up protests if the government failed to roll back fuel price.

The other key demands include bringing fuel under GST regime, making fuel available at subsidised rate for autorickshaws and taxi cars, providing ₹5,000 per month to drivers from workers’ welfare fund, levying annual tax instead of the 15-year tax on new taxi cars, extension of tenure of permit, insurance and fitness certificate, and extension of loan repayment moratorium till March 2022, along with interest waiver.

Bus operators’ protest

In the meantime, operators of private buses and their family members will stage a protest before their buses while bearing placards at 4 p.m. on Saturday, to denounce the frequent and sky-rocketing fuel price, the steering committee of Kerala State Private Bus Operators’ Federation has decided.

Diesel that cost ₹66 a litre in March 2020 now costs ₹92 a litre, an increase of ₹26 in 14 months. This has resulted in each bus incurring an increase in operational expense of around ₹2,500 per day. This is primarily because the NDA government increased Excise duty on fuel which was ₹3.46 in 2014 to ₹31.83 now. The State too increased sales tax from less than ₹9 to ₹18, said federation treasurer Hamsa Erikunnan.

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Printable version | Aug 5, 2021 3:39:49 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/centre-state-urged-to-roll-back-taxes-on-fuel/article34791242.ece

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