Welcoming Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s move to reduce the prices of petrol and diesel in Kerala by Re 1 from June, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Wednesday pointed out that the state’s tax collection was one of the highest while urging other governments to follow suit. In a rebuff to Vijayan’s remarks that the cut in fuel prices was a message to the BJP-ruled Centre, Pradhan alleged it was the Centre which had appealed to the Kerala government for a reduction in oil prices but its offer was spurned by state Finance Minister Thoman Issac.
“I welcome it. One must also note that Kerala is one of the highest tax-collecting states and when we appealed (for fuel price cut), their Finance Minister gave a negative statement, but now they took responsibility. I thank them for it,” ANI quoted Pradhan as saying.
The Union minister also urged the opposition against politicising the issue and said other states, irrespective of being governed by BJP or not, should try and ease the burden from the consumers, who have faced the brunt of 16 consecutive days of fuel price hike. “Kerala did well by reducing the price. All states, whether governed by BJP or opposition, should try to reduce fuel prices but each state has different priorities and responsibilities,” Pradhan said.
The CPI(M)-led Kerala government slashed the state tax imposed on petroleum products by a rupee in view of the rising fuel prices and Vijayan said the onus was now on the Centre to effect a price reduction from its end. “The state government has decided to forego Re 1 from its tax portion and as a result, the loss to the exchequer would be Rs 509 crore in a year. We wish to send a message to the Centre that despite pleas from several quarters, it is not doing anything to bring some relief to the people,” the CM said.
Meanwhile, India woke up to marginal cut in petrol prices on Wednesday but the cheer was short-lived as it turned out that the 60 paise cut was just an error on part of the IOCL and the actual reduction in price was a meagre 1 paisa. The Centre was roasted on social media and Congress President Rahul Gandhi called it a “cruel joke”.
Going into a damage-control mode, Pradhan said since the nation moved to the mechanism of daily price revision from July 2017, fuel rates have increased and decreased between 1 paisa and 27 paise. “Since we moved to the mechanism of daily price change, prices have gone up and down by 1 paisa, 12 paise, 27 paise etc. It is not for the first time that there has been a change of 1 paisa. However, today one of our employees made a mistake and we accept it,” the petroleum minister said.