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Excise Duty Cuts Not Enough, Bring It Further Down To UPA Level, Opposition Tells Centre

The Centre on Saturday reduced excise duty of Rs 8 per litre on petrol and Rs 6 on diesel, lowering petrol prices by Rs 9.5 per litre and diesel by Rs 7.

Excise Duty Cuts Not Enough, Bring It Further Down To UPA Level, Opposition Tells Centre
Representative image PTI Photo

Following the Union government's reduction of excise duty on Saturday, the Opposition said it's not enough and that the Centre should bring its levies down to ease the financial burden on people.

The Congress party said Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's announcements were "befooling" people and that the government should reduce the duties to UPA level instead of "jugglery of figures" and "jumlas”. 

"Nation needs roll back of excise on petrol and diesel to May 2014 levels of Rs 9.48 litre on petrol and Rs 3.56 litre on diesel," said Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala in a tweet. 

The Trinamool Congress lashed out at the government on similar lines and said the excise duty cuts were an attempt to fool people and that the West Bengal state government would reduce state levies only when the Centre would release funds for states. The party also alleged that the price cut was not proportional to the recent price surge.

The TMC national spokesperson Sukhendu Sekhar Ray said the Centre has raised the prices of petrol and diesel at least 14 times in the past few months and by leaps and bounds in the past one year. 

He aded, "Now it is decreasing the prices by Rs 8 and Rs 6 per litre respectively. This is nothing but an attempt to fool the general people. This cut is not enough to bring down inflation." 

Ray further said West Bengal will slash fuel prices once the Centre cleared its dues amounting to Rs 97,000 crore. He added the Centre has placed an "economic blockade" on West Bengal.

Shiv Sena leader and Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray also said the Centre's reduction was not proportional to the recent surge.

He added, "Two months ago, the excise duty on petrol was hiked by Rs 18.42 per litre and today, it has been reduced by Rs 8, while the duty on diesel was increased by Rs 18.24 per litre and now it has been brought down by Rs 6. It is not good to make drastic hikes and then provide minimal reduction."

Thackeray further said that the real relief to people would be to bring the excise duty down to what it was six or seven years ago.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot took the credit for the Centre's move, saying it was the Congress party's agitation that pressured the government into reducing excise duty. He added that it was not enough and the cuts announced were just a formality.

Gehlot said, “Due to the continuous protests by the Congress against inflation across the country and the pressure of public awareness campaign against the inflation decided in 'Navsankalp Shivir, Udaipur', the central government today had to decide to reduce the excise duty on petrol and diesel.

"However, in the last two months, the price of petrol and diesel had increased by about Rs 10 per litre. In such a situation, today's deduction appears to be just a formality."

However, the Kerala government broke ranks with the Opposition to welcome the Centre's reduction in duties and followed it with a reduction of its state levies. 

Kerala Finance Minister KN Balagopal  announced a tax cut on the prices of petrol and diesel by Rs 2.41 and Rs 1.36 per litre respectively. 

He said, "The Union government has partially reduced the huge tax on petrol and diesel. Kerala government welcomes this decision."

Union Finance Minister Sitharaman had urged the states on Saturday to follow with reduction in state levies on petrol and diesel to further increase the relief to people. 

Earlier at an interaction with chief ministers, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said some states did injustice to their people by not reducing state taxes when the Centre reduced excise duty on fuel last November. 

(With PTI inputs)

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