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‘Dharamsankat’: Sitharaman when asked if Centre will cut cess to bring down fuel prices

"No hiding of the fact that the Centre gets revenue from it [fuel prices]. Same is the case with states. I agree that there should be less burden on the consumers. For that, both the Centre and states should talk with each other," Sitharaman said.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: February 25, 2021 10:47:28 pm
Nirmala Sitharaman, Rahul Gandhi, Doomsday Man, Nirmala targets Rahul, fake narratives, insulting india, Indian express newsIn its report for February, the Department of Economic Affairs said economic activities have gathered pace, with mild stiffening of the Covid curve failing to deter a steady uptick in consumer sentiment that has been bolstered by the inoculation drive. (File photo)

Speaking on the skyrocketing fuel prices, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Thursday agreed that there should be less burden on consumers, and reiterated that both the Centre and states should talk to each other to find a way to reduce diesel and petrol prices.

When asked if the Centre is planning to reduce cess or other taxes on fuel to give some respite to consumers, she said the question has put her in “dharmsankat” (dilemma).

Interacting with students of the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIMA), Sitharaman said, “No hiding of the fact that the Centre gets revenue from it. Same is the case with states. I agree that there should be less burden on consumers. For that, both the Centre and states should talk with each other.”

Earlier in the day, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Shaktikanta Das spoke on similar lines, underlining the need for coordinated action between the centre and state governments to reduce taxes on petrol and diesel prices.

The finance minister also took a dig at those demanding that the Minimum Support Price (MSP) regime be brought under the purview of law, and asked why it was not done when the UPA was at the Centre before 2014.

Legal guarantee for MSP has been one of the major demands of the farmers protesting at New Delhi’s borders, besides a repeal of the three new farm laws.

Referring to the ongoing protest against the agriculture laws, Sitharaman said these legislations were not about MSP.

“The protest is about the three laws which were passed (in Parliament in September last year)… these laws have to do nothing with MSP (of crops). And since MSP is not a part of the three laws, to come and protest against the three laws and then raise MSP (issue) does not add up,” she said during the interaction. She added that the Centre has explained to farmer unions during talks that the existing MSP regime is not part of the contentious laws.

“The Union agriculture minister sat and discussed with the farmers and asked them; ‘see MSP is not part of the three laws, but if you want to discuss it, then tell me what it is’,” said Sitharaman when a student asked for her views on giving legal backing to the MSP mechanism.

“There are 22 items which are there on the MSP list. Though MSP is offered, farmers are not coming. Because, outside the market, they get much higher rates than the MSP,” she said.

“If indeed MSP has to be put in the statute and give it the backing of law, why was it not done in the 10 years of the UPA government (2004-14)? Why was it never a part of the farm reform discussions and why no manifesto carried it till now?” she asked.

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