‘No gumption’: Amit Mitra hits out at Centre over fuel prices

Speaking at the 164th AGM of the Bengal Chamber of Commerce & Industry on Wednesday, Mitra said the central government had increased excise duty as many as nine times.

By: Express News Service | Kolkata | Published: September 13, 2018 5:43:31 am
Finance Minister Amit Mitra 

A day after the state government reduced petrol and diesel prices by Re 1 per litre, state Finance Minister Amit Mitra asked why the Centre was not taking steps to check rise in fuel prices. Speaking at the 164th AGM of the Bengal Chamber of Commerce & Industry on Wednesday, Mitra said the central government had increased excise duty as many as nine times.

“For petrol, it had gone up from Rs 9.48 to Rs 19.48 per litre — a Rs 10 hike during their regime. Diesel went up by Rs 11.77 during their regime. However, state governments like West Bengal, in particular, did not change sales tax or cess on fuel. That is something the public must know. There is no election coming up in the state. Mamata has still reduced the price by Re 1 per litre. It is just an empathetic move for consumers, indicating that ‘we are with you’. It’s a heartfelt gesture,” he said.

“There is no VAT in our state. It’s sales tax and cess together. When the international crude oil prices fell from Rs 104 a barrel to Rs 33 a barrel, the Centre did not even have the gumption to create a buffer stock. They did not create a fuel price stabilisation fund. What kind of central government is this? Now, they continue to increase the fuel price, while the rupee has been escalating compared to the dollar…” he said.

Mitra elaborated on the creation of a fuel price stabilisation fund, saying, “When the price of Brent crude was low and you have a difference, you collect the money and create a fund, so that when prices start going up, you are able to create a condition to control and stabilise prices. States do not buy crude. It’s the central government which is involved in crude. I want to know and the people of India want to know why the Modi government did not create a price stabilisation fund.”

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