Governments in Assam and Meghalaya have hiked the taxes on petrol and fuel even as global crude oil prices hit a record low and the country continued to observe a lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic.
A litre of petrol in Meghalaya will now cost Rs 74.9 while diesel will cost Rs 67.5.
“The new rate of tax for petrol is 31 per cent or Rs 17.6 per litre and 22.5 per cent for diesel or Rs 12.5 per litre,” a government notification said on Wednesday. Two per cent sales tax surcharge will also be levied on both petrol and diesel, the notice added.
The move by the Meghalaya government evoked sharp criticism from the opposition Congress, with former minister Ampareen Lyngdoh questioning the need to increase the taxes.
“When international oil prices have fallen, we do not understand the need for the hike in taxes on petrol and diesel. The common people will be bearing the brunt of it as prices of essential commodities will increase,” she said. She also said the state government should rollback the tax hike.
Likewise, Assam too announced a steep increase in fuel prices to cover “some of the losses” incurred due to the lockdown.
The price of petrol increased from Rs 71.61 to Rs 77.46 per litre and of diesel from Rs 65.07 to Rs 70.50 per litre. The revised rates was brought into effective from April 22 midnight.
Briefing reporters on Wednesday, Finance and Health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said the increase in fuel prices is a temporary measure and “the pain has to be borne by all”. “Once the coronavirus ends, we will review it again,” he said.
The state government was losing revenue as consumers buying fuel had come down drastically and “we had to increase the prices to cover some of the losses”, Sarma said.
“We will be doubly hit as international prices have come down and our royalty from OIL India and ONGC will also come down drastically. Besides, fuel sale in the state has almost been negligible,” he said.
On Tuesday, the Assam government had issued a notification, increasing the rates of tax on diesel by “23.66 paise in the rupee or Rs 17.45 per litre whichever is higher” and in the case of petrol and motor spirits by “32.66 paise in the rupee or Rs 22.63 per litre, whichever is higher”.
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