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‘Should be joint call of Centre, states’: FM Sitharaman on petrol, diesel prices

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Nirmala Sitharaman on petrol and diesel prices
DNA India

Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday said the state and the Centre both earn revenue on petroleum products and both sides should discuss it.

Calling the inflated fuel price a ‘Dharam sankat’ (dilemma) for the government, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday said the state and the Centre both earn revenue on petroleum products and both sides should discuss it.

“Ideally, it is a matter which both States and Centre should discuss because it’s not just Centre which has duties on petroleum price, States are also charging. When the Centre draws revenue, 41 percent of it goes to the state. This is a layered issue and therefore, I would like both state and Centre to discuss together,” said the Finance Minister while answering a media query during the ‘Indian Women’s press corps’ event.

As much as 60 percent of the retail price of petrol, which has shot above Rs 100-mark in some places in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra and is at an all-time high elsewhere in the country, is made up of central and state taxes. Taxes make up about 56 percent of the record-high diesel rates.

When asked if she had any discussion with states regarding the matter, the Finance Minister said, as of now, she did not have any discussion with any state government.

On the issue of bringing petrol and diesel under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime, which will end the cascading impact of taxes and bring uniformity, the finance minister said the call has to be taken by the GST Council, the apex decision-making body of the indirect tax regime.

Currently, the central government levies a fixed rate of excise duty while states levy different rates of VAT. Under the GST, the two would merge and bring uniformity, solving the problem of fuel rates being higher in states with higher VAT.

Talking about the Union budget 2021, Sitharaman said the government in the Budget, ensured to divide the stimulus to understand where it should be going.

“Simultaneously we also made sure that we utilized the opportunity that the pandemic presented us with by continuing with reforms,” she said.

She added that the government also brought a consistent picture of what it is going to do in the next 20-25 years to benefit the Indian youth in this budget. “For the next 25 years, it’s important to have a policy-driven landscape to ensure that Indian youths’ talent is realized in India. The Budget provides that landscape for entrepreneurs, businesses, by viewing India as a hub of manufacturing,” she added.

When asked about Income Tax raids at the properties of actress Tapsee Pannu, filmmaker Anurag Kashyap, and others, the Finance Minister said “When it (raids) happens during a government, it was fine, and when it happens during this government, it’s not. The same people were raided in 2013 too, it wasn’t an issue, but it’s an issue now.”

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