Hours after Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman hiked taxes on petrol and diesel by Rs 2 a litre each, transporters in Bengal Friday called the Budget 2019-20 “anti-people” and threatened to launch a protest against the increase.
After taking into account the increase in excise duty, and road and transport, the local sales tax will make petrol costlier by Rs 2.5 per litre and diesel by Rs 2.3.
The West Bengal Petroleum Dealers’ Association will meet CM Mamata Banerjee and share their grievances with her.
“We will submit a letter to the chief minister. This is unacceptable. The impact will not only be on transporters but also on common people. The Budget is anti-people,” President Tushar Sen of the association told The Indian Express.
West Bengal Truck Operators’ Association too criticised the Budget saying it will add extra burden on loss-making transporters.
“We have been fighting against the government policies for long. Instead of finding out a solution, the government has further burdened us. Those who are associated with this business will not run it due to losses,” said Sajal Ghosh, Joint Secretary of the truckers’ group. At least 30,000 trucks have gone off the road in the last few years
owing to losses.
Meanwhile, truck operators in the state will block National Highways for two hours from noon to 2pm on July 10, demanding immediate implementation of the revised permissible weight limit for heavy vehicles and rollback of the hiked petrol and diesel prices.
“It was scheduled long time ago, but now we have another reason to protest,” said another member of the association.
In addition, private bus operators have demanded that the government withdraw its decision on petrol and diesel. They have also threatened to kick start a protest, if the demand is not met.
“It is very unfortunate that the government didn’t think once about middle-class tax payers and poor people. The increase in diesel prices would mean inflation,” Tapan Bandopadhyay, a member of the Bus Syndicate said.
Indranil Banerjee, Convener of West Bengal Online Cab Operators’ Guild, claimed the owners of Ola and Uber cabs will also be badly affected by the move. He said if cab operators refuse to increase cab owners’ commission, they will be bound to protest the government’s decision.
“It is good that the government is trying to boost electric vehicles for environment. But the increase in fuel prices means that taxis and app-based cabs will hike their fares,” said Arvind Mahato, a marketing professional who works for a private bank, adding that he was “disappointed” with the Budget.