Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Hardeep Puri launched a diatribe against the “hypocrisy” of Opposition-ruled States on Thursday and said petrol would be cheaper if some of them cut taxes on fuel instead of imported liquor.
The Minister’s comments in a series of social media posts came a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi blamed Opposition-ruled States for not cutting fuel taxes to benefit consumers.
Mr. Puri listed out several States’ taxation structure for petroleum products and argued that the taxes levied by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled States are the lowest. He also slammed States for levying a high tax on aviation turbine fuel (ATF), leading to higher airfares.
“BJP ruled States have a VAT [value added tax] on petrol & diesel in the range of ₹14.50 to ₹17.50 /ltr, while taxes levied by States ruled by other parties are in the range of ₹26 to ₹32 /ltr. The difference is clear. Their intent is only to protest & criticise, not extend relief to the people,” he remarked.
“Ever wondered why air ticket prices haven’t come down? Aviation Turbine Fuel constitutes about 40% of the cost of airline operations. But West Bengal, Maharashtra & Delhi impose massive 25%+ VAT on ATF while BJP states UP & Nagaland; & UT of J&K charge just 1%,” Mr. Puri noted, adding that the PM was ensuring affordable air travel to common citizens, but these States were creating “impediments”.
“They manufacture protests against ‘oil prices’ but fleece the people to fill their coffers… The truth hurts, but facts speak for themselves,” the Oil and Gas Minister said.
Maharashtra, he said, has collected ₹79,412 crore as fuel taxes since 2018 and is expected to collect ₹33,000 crore this year, questioning the State for not reducing VAT on petrol and diesel to provide relief to people.
“Petrol will be cheaper if Opposition ruled states cut taxes on fuel instead of imported liquor! Maharashtra govt imposes ₹32.15/ltr on petrol & Congress ruled Rajasthan ₹29.10 but BJP ruled Uttarakhand levies only ₹14.51 & Uttar Pradesh ₹16.50 Protests cannot challenge facts!” he commented.
Terming Telangana, whose Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao severely criticised the PM’s advice to States on Wednesday, a “curious case”, Mr. Puri said it imposes one of the highest VAT on petrol and diesel, at 35.20% and 27%, respectively. “State govt has collected ₹56,020 cr as VAT from 2014 to 2021. Projected to mop up ₹13,315 cr in 2021-22. Adds up to a huge ₹69,334 cr. Where has it gone?” he asked.
Mr. Rao had pointed out that the Telangana Government had not enhanced taxes on petroleum products since 2015, while the Centre has not only raised taxes but also levied a cess.