Time to bring both under GST: Pradhan
New Delhi/Bhubaneswar: Petrol and diesel prices were Friday hiked by about 50 paisa per litre each — the steepest increase in rates since daily price revision came into effect over 14 months back — to push rates to their highest ever while Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan suggested it was now time to bring the two fuels under the purview of GST.
Petrol price was hiked by 48 paisa per litre and diesel by 47 a litre, according to price notification issued by state fuel retailers.
A litre of petrol in Delhi now costs `79.99 – a record high. It costs `87.39 in Mumbai. Diesel is now priced at `72.07 a litre in Delhi and `76.51 in Mumbai.
Meanwhile, attributing the price hike to international factors, Pradhan said it had now become essential to bring petrol and diesel under the purview of GST.
The unusual surge in fuel price is due to the political and economic situations at the international level and the Centre has been vigilant about it, he told newsmen at Bhubaneswar on the sidelines of a function Friday.
“It has now become essential to bring petrol and diesel under the purview of GST. As these two items are out of the GST, the nation has to bear a loss of about `15,000 crore. If petrol and diesel are brought under the GST, it will be better for all including consumers,” Pradhan said.
Asked about the Centre’s steps to reduce oil prices, Pradhan said “One cannot effectively address the situation just by cutting down the rate of excise duty.
“The political situation in countries like Iran, Venezuela and Turkey has impacted the production of crude oil,” Pradhan said adding that the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has also not been able to increase the production of crude oil despite their promise.
Pradhan said India is constantly in discussion with the US, which has been impacting the crude oil production.
“Yesterday, during the 2+2 discussion, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had raised the issue of oil price. This apart from the devaluation of rupee has also impacted the price hike of oil,” he said.
Replying to another question, the union minister said the Odisha government has been getting a revenue of about `7,000 crore from petroleum products by raising the tax rate on these products. “The people will get relief if the state government reduces the tax on petrol and diesel,” he said.
House adjourned over price hike, teachers’ strike
Bhubaneswar: Hike in fuel prices inflamed passions both inside the state Assembly and on the streets Friday with the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) protesting against it. Soon after the Assembly convened at 10.30 am, BJD members were up on their feet and started shouting slogans against the Central government.
On the other hand, Opposition Congress and BJP members demanded a discussion on the adjournment motion moved by them over the ongoing strike by teachers of block grant schools and colleges. Finding it difficult to run the House, Speaker Pradip Kumar Amat adjourned proceedings first till 3 pm and later, after the situation still did not improve, till Monday.
The Congress alleged that due to the strike by teachers for the past 23 days, various schools are now locked up and the future of 30 lakh students were in the dark. They also brought an adjournment motion on the issue which was accepted by the Speaker.
Leader of the Opposition Narasingha Mishra termed adjournment of the House as ‘undemocratic’. The BJP said the House was adjourned to avoid a discussion on the teachers’ issue.
Meanwhile, the ruling BJD launched a three-day protest against the fuel price hike.
BJD leaders and workers of the party’s three frontal organizations–Biju Mahila Janata Dal, Biju Yuva Janata Dal and Biju Chhatra Janata Dal — staged a demonstration in front of petrol pumps at various locations from 10 am to 12 pm.
Holding banners against the fuel price hike, party activists shouted slogans against the Centre and distributed leaflets to fuel consumers at various petrol pumps to create awareness. They will continue the protest till Sunday. “The Modi government had come to power with promises of ‘acche din’ to people. But, the increasing petrol and diesel prices have over-burdened the common man. We demand that the Centre immediacy roll back the hike and scrap the anti-people policy,” BJD general secretary Sanjay Das Burma said. “We will intensify the protest if the prices of petroleum products are not brought under control,” he threatened. BJD MLA Raseswari Panigrahi said, “They (BJP) had promised to slash the price of petrol and diesel after coming to power at the Centre. But, the price has instead gone skyrocketing. People are suffering a lot.”
Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) president Niranjan Patnaik said, “Total amount of tax collected from fuel by the Modi government is a whopping `11 lakh crore. Is this an elected government or a profit making enterprise? How can a government be so cruel?”
OPCC gears up for Bharat bandh
Bhubaneswar: Odisha Congress has decided to hold protest meetings and road blockades across the state as part of the national party’s call for Bharat bandh September 10.
Speaking to Orissa POST, Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) working president Pradeep Majhi Friday said, “People are fed up with this government. The common man is bearing the brunt of escalating prices of petrol, diesel and cooking gas as well as of other essential commodities.”
Though the nationwide protest will be undertaken between 9 am and 3 pm, the protest will start from morning in the state, Majhi said.
All schools, colleges, business establishments and government offices will remain closed in support of the strike, he said, adding, “There will be no movement of both road and railway traffic too. However, essential services will not be affected due to the strike.”
Meanwhile, keeping the law and order situation in view, the government has instructed concerned authorities to beef up the security arrangement in the state Secretariat.
The Home Department has advised all other departments to issue necessary instructions to their employees to come to office early by 9.30 am to facilitate smooth entry to the Secretariat.
In a letter to all secretaries, Home Special Secretary Santosh Bala said, “It is apprehended that they (Congress activists) may stop vehicular traffic, rail traffic and close down business establishments and picket before government offices, banks and educational institutions, etc.”
“The front gates of the Secretariat will be closed at 10.15 am and all passage will be regulated through the rear gate. The connecting gate between the Red Building and Main Secretariat building will also remain open,“ she said. The government has also decided to restrict entry of visitors to the state Secretariat Monday. However, persons having prior appointment and whose business is urgent would be given entry passes, the special secretary added.