The West Bengal Petroleum Dealers Association (WBPDA) Monday said it would support nationwide strike called by All India Petrol Dealers Association (AIPDA) on July 5, protesting the partial inclusion of petroleum-related products in GST. On the day of the strike, dealers will not purchase petrol from oil companies. However, petrol pumps will be able to buy stocked fuel from dealers. They have also announced a ‘no purchase-no sale’ day on July 12, which is likely to result in a scarcity of petrol and diesel.
As per WBPDA, approximately 3,000 petrol pumps in the state will be affected by the strike. WBPDA believes the Centre should have brought petrol and diesel under the new tax regime, in order to eliminate state-to-state variations in prices and create a single pricing system across the nation. Failing this, dealers want other petroleum-related products to be excluded from GST as well, to save themselves from the “complications” of GST.
“We get Rs 1.61 per litre on diesel and Rs 2.50 on petrol from oil companies. In other countries, including Bangladesh, dealers get commission in percentages. The whole industry runs on dynamic pricing, and price varies from state to state. In recent times, prices in Bengal have gone down by Rs 2. In such a situation, small dealers will face huge losses. It’s tough for them to survive,” Tushar Sen, president of WBPDA, told The Indian Express. Association dealers believe that petrol and diesel were excluded from GST as they are one of the biggest sources of revenue for the central and state governments. This exclusion allows for continued levying of heavy taxes on the products, they added.
“Earlier we knew petrol and diesel won’t come under GST. But a few days ago, we found that other petroleum items… have been included. Now, the GST system is complicated. If we have to learn it anyway, then why didn’t government include petrol and diesel in it? We want to know. If they had done so, it would have reduced prices and equalised them across the country. We are already under the new system for some items, so they could have included all the products,” said Sen.
The WBPDA said it was supporting the nationwide strike to ensure “complete transparency”. “Oil marketing companies have failed to install automated systems. Such a system is likely to ensure transparency in dynamic pricing mode,” said Sen. He added that in the state, only one per cent of petrol pumps have automated systems.