September 17, 2021 11:58:06 am
The inclusion of petrol and diesel in the Good and Services Tax (GST) will help in reducing their prices and give relief to the people across the country, former state finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said on Friday.
The GST Council has convened a meeting in Lucknow on Friday, during which a discussion on bringing petrol and diesel within the ambit of the GST is likely on the agenda.
Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister and state Finance Minister Ajit Pawar, on the other hand, has opposed the decision, arguing it will have adverse consequences on revenue generation.
Mungantiwar said, “If petrol and diesel are brought under GST, prices will decline by Rs 25 and Rs 20 per liter for petrol and diesel, respectively. This will provide huge relief to people across the state and country.”
Maharashtra is among the leading industrial states. There are many revenue generation options which the state government can explore. But, thwarting the Centre’s GST policy citing revenue fall, would amount to doing injustice to people of Maharashtra, Mungantiwar added.
The senior BJP leader, who headed the state finance ministry between 2014 to 2019, has been urging the Ccentre to bring petrol and diesel under the GST regime.
“During the BJP-led government in Maharashtra, then chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had written to the Centre regarding this. The state had recommended bringing petrol and diesel under GST to ensure uniform prices across the state and country. It would help in curtailing the steep hike. This is a stand, I as finance minister also strongly voiced in several GST council meetings in the past,” Mungantiwar revealed.
While allaying the state government’s apprehensions over revenue shortfalls, Mungantiwar said, “The state government should define its priorities. The question is whether the government wants to reduce petrol and diesel prices to help its people or not. If they want to lower petrol and diesel prices, the only option is to support GST.”
“Moreover, the state government should realise that by bringing petrol and diesel under GST, even the Centre is going to loose huge revenue. It affects both the Centre and state. At the same time, we should not forget that when GST was introduced in 2017, it was decided that petrol and diesel would be exempted only for five years. So, there is still one year left. After that, anyway, it would be included in GST. So, why raise such hue and cry,” he asked.
Mungantiwar noted that the Maharashtra government cannot override people’s welfare. When policies are drawn for the people, some compromises are inevitable, he said.
Countering Pawar’s concern over revenue shortfalls, Mungantiwar pointed out, “Did the state government not give concessions on stamp duty restoration to help developers whose businesses were hit due to Covid-19 pandemic? How often do we extend concessions to the agriculture sector to help farmers cope with financial problems? We don’t always measure our state health based on revenue generation or shortfall. Therefore, today when the Centre is trying to bring uniform tax regime to check prices, the Maharashtra government should wholeheartedly support the decision and enforce it.”
Taking a dig at the ruling coalition, Mungantiwar said, “Congress and NCP leaders took out a cycle protest in March against the petrol and diesel price rise. They held the Centre responsible for the rise in prices. Now, when the Centre wants to address the issue through GST, why are these parties opposing it? It exposes their double standards.”
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