Kolkata: A war of words ensued between the ruling Trinamool Congress and the BJP over West Bengal’s decision not to slash Value Added Tax (VAT) on petrol and diesel even after 22 NDA ruled states decided to accept the Centre’s proposal to cut the state tax revenue on fuel.
Last week, the Centre announced to decrease excise duty on petrol and diesel lowering the petrol prices by Rs 5 and diesel price by Rs 10. The centre also urged the states to reduce VAT (a revenue enjoyed by the state) on fuel so as to give further relief to the people.
In line with the Cebtre’s announcement, 22 NDA ruled states have reduced VAT but 14 states including Punjab, Maharashtra, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, West Bengal decided not to slash prices triggering political controversy.
According to experts the selling price of oil is dependent on the base price plus excise duty, transportation cost and VAT imposed by the states. Presently the West Bengal government charges VTA of 25 per cent for petrol and 17 per cent for diesel.
“The Centre has decided to decrease the price of oil to give relief to the people and now it is the responsibility of the states to do the same thing. So long they were saying that it was because of the centre that the price of oil is not coming down and now what are they going to say? They need to understand the plight of the people else we will have to go for a bigger movement,” BJP national vice-president Dilip Ghosh said.
Trinamool Congress MP Sougata Roy said: “This is unfair. The centre is now trying to put pressure on the states to reduce VAT. It is the individual decision of the states to decide on the issue. The centre cannot force us to do so. Some states have reduced VAT. It is their choice. We have not and that is our decision”.
Trinamool Congress spokesperson of the state, Kunal Ghosh said: “They have reduced excise duty. This is a temporary solution. We want a permanent solution. We ask the centre to reduce the base price of oil else nothing is going to work. Let them first sacrifice the excess money they are getting then they will ask us to reduce our portion of the revenue.
“We also demand for a restructuring of the centre-state tax structure.”
“I heartily welcome the decision taken by the Govt of India to reduce the excise duty levied on petrol by Rs 5 and diesel by Rs. 10. A Diwali gift to the nation by the Prime Minister. Now the West Bengal government should follow suit and slash state Tax to further bring down the rates,” BJP MLA and Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari said.
Refuting the allegation that the Centre has reduced the price because of the 2022 Assembly elections, state BJP President Sukanta Majumdar said: “This is not correct. There is no election at present. We were waiting for the reduction of the price of crude oil in the international market but that didn’t happen and so we reduced the price to give relief to the people.
“If we had done it before the election then we could have gained some advantage but now there is no election and the question of getting advantage doesn’t arise.”
Image source: IANS