With prices of petrol and diesel climbing steeply, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan Sunday agreed that the rates were a problem, but said that since government expenses are up due to Covid relief measures, “the Centre is saving money to spend on welfare schemes”.
“I accept that fuel prices are pinching consumers, there’s no doubt about this. But over Rs 35,000 crore has been been spent on Covid vaccines in a year. Rs 1 lakh crore has been spent on Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Yojana in order to provide eight months’ ration to the poor. A few thousand crores of rupees have also been transferred to farmers’ bank accounts under PM Kisan…In such dire times, we’re saving money to spend on welfare schemes,” Pradhan said, speaking to the media.
#WATCH | I accept that current fuel prices are problematic for people but be it central/state govt, over Rs 35,000 crores have been being spent on vaccines in a year… In such dire times, we’re saving money to spend on welfare schemes: Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan pic.twitter.com/ugObtQYiB6
— ANI (@ANI) June 13, 2021
With the Centre facing constant flak from the Opposition over fuel prices, Pradhan asked Congress governments in Rajasthan and Maharashtra to cut sales tax if the party was “that concerned about the burden on the common man”. Asked about Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s repeated attacks on the Modi government, Pradhan said, “Rahul Gandhi must answer why fuel prices are high in Congress-ruled states like Punjab, Rajasthan, and Maharashtra. If he is so concerned about the poor, he should instruct the Maharashtra CM to reduce taxes, as fuel prices are very high in Mumbai.”
Pradhan, however, refrained from commenting on whether BJP-ruled states, like Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka, where petrol has crossed the Rs-100 mark, would do the same.
Fuel prices differ from state to state depending on local taxes such as VAT and the freight charges levied on them. Due to this, petrol at present costs more than Rs 100 per litre in seven states and Union Territories — Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Ladakh. Of these states, Congress is in power in Rajasthan and is a coalition partner with Shiv Sena and NCP in Maharashtra. Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka are ruled by the BJP. Ladakh too is under central rule. Andhra Pradesh has YSR Congress in power while TRS rules in Telangana.