On a day that Congress observed Bharat Bandh to protest high petrol and diesel prices, Congress-ruled Punjab had the costliest petrol in the northern region, and the third most expensive in the whole country.
Punjab’s fuel prices are cheaper only compared to Maharashtra, which is the most expensive, and Andhra Pradesh, the second costliest.
In this region, Punjab imposes the maximum VAT of 35.12 per cent on petrol compared to other neighbouring states.
On Sunday, the Rajasthan government announced a tax-cut on VAT by 4 per cent, bringing the price of every litre of diesel down by Rs 2.5. The VAT in Rajasthan is now 28.38 per cent, Delhi is at 27 per cent, Haryana 26.25 per cent, Himachal Pradesh at 24.43 per cent, and Chandigarh at 19.76 per cent.
The VAT on diesel in Punjab at Rs 16.74 is the lowest in the region. In Delhi, it is 17.24 per cent, Haryana 17.22 per cent and Rajasthan 20.80 per cent. Chandigarh and Himachal Pradesh, however, had lower VAT at 11.42 ad 14.38 per cent respectively.
While petrol per litre was dearest in Punjab from between Rs 85.97 in Bathinda to Rs 86.83 in Mohali and Nangal, it was for Rs 84.3 atSri Ganganagar in Rajasthan, Rs 80.94 in Sirsa in Haryana, at Rs 80.21 in Baddi in Himachal Pradesh, for Rs 80.82 in Delhi, and Rs 77.81 inChandigarh.
Diesel is, however, costliest in Rajasthan at Rs 78. It was Rs 7.5 per litre more than Punjab. But after last night’s tax cut, it is costlier by Rs 5 per litre compared to Punjab, where it is Rs 73.29 per litre. In Chandigarh, diesel was sold at Rs 70.89, in Delhi at Rs 72.92 and Haryana at Rs 73.37.
Dr Manjit Singh, General Secretary of Petrol Pump Dealer Association Punjab (PPDAP), said they have been demanding slash in VAT on petrol and diesel in Punjab. He said the high tax had dented the consumption growth in the state. “We demand inclusion of petrol and diesel in the GST. Due to this VAT in Punjab, the consumption growth in the last 17 years in case of petrol has fallen from 10 per cent to 2 per cent and diesel from 7.5 per cent to 2.8 per cent per annum.”
Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar, who was spearheading the Bharat Bandh in the state said, “We have not raised the VAT even by one per cent. We are continuing with whatever we have inherited from the previous government. We are cash crunched. We will reduce VAT the day we feel comfortable financially. We are taking up the matter of Rs 31,000 crore loan for food grains with the Centre. If they give us respite, we will pass it on to the consumer. Otherwise, we are hard pressed even to pay salaries. We are also demanding inclusion of petrol and diesel in GST.”