Updated: July 13, 2021 3:06:13 pm
Congress leader and former Finance minister P Chidambaram Tuesday hit out at the Narendra Modi-led government over the rise in prices of petrol, LPG and pulses, announcing that the Congress Party will raise the issue of inflation in the upcoming Monsoon Session of Parliament.
Accusing the Centre of ‘pretending’ that price rise is a ‘false concern’, Chidambaram expressed worry over the high rate of unemployment and wage cuts in the country. “In such a situation of widespread distress, inflation has broken the back of the people, and we hold the central government under Narendra Modi directly responsible for the high inflation,” he said.
Chidambaram demanded a reduction in fuel prices and GST rates, and a review of the import duties to reduce the “crushing burden of high inflation.”
“Despite stout opposition, the government has continually increased the prices of petrol, diesel and LPG,” he said, adding that the price of petrol had reached over Rs 100 in Mumbai and Delhi, while the price of LPG is at Rs 835 per cylinder in Delhi and Rs 933 per cylinder in Patna. “None of these prices is justified by the price of crude oil which is around $75 a barrel. When crude oil price was $125, the UPA government was able to provide petrol at Rs 65 per litre and diesel at Rs 44 per litre,” Chidambaram said.
He blamed the cesses levied by the central government for the “exorbitant prices”, stating that it collects nearly Rs 4.2 lakh crore annually through them and “keeps all that money to itself.”
Chidambaram went on to criticise the Modi government for increasing import duties on several goods, despite a “downward trend in the value of the rupee.” He also called the Goods and Services Tax (GST) “a regressive tax” with “irrational” rates.
Referring to NSO data, Chidambaram said the consumer price inflation has reached 6.26 per cent, which is above the upper limit of inflation target set by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
“Will the government please tell the people what they should eat, how they should light their homes and how they should go to work?” Chidambaram asked. He added that the inflation was not caused by a rise in demand or liquidity, but due to “the wrong policies of the government and its inept management of the economy.” “Let me caution the government: the issue of high inflation will not go away if you pretend it does not exist,” he concluded.
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