NEW DELHI: Members from various political parties on Wednesday asked the government to reduce central taxes on petrol and diesel and give relief to the common man.
Participating in a discussion on the Finance Bill 2021 in the Rajya Sabha, Biju Janata Dal member Sujeet Kumar said the 10-fold increase in cess and surcharge by the Centre in the last couple of years is against the structure of cooperative federalism.
"Increase in cess and surcharge which has increased 10-fold in last couple of years which is not in the spirit of cooperative federalism. In fact, it is a direct assault on federal structure of the country," Kumar said.
While he appreciated Budget proposals on relaxation of time limit in reopening of income tax assessment from six years to three and hike in threshold for audit from Rs 5 crore to Rs 10 crore for business entities having 95 per cent business in digital form, Kumar urged the government to reduce the excise component in the prices of diesel, which is as high as 39 per cent, to give relief to citizens.
Kumar also expressed concern that the allocation for education has been reduced.
"Education is the backbone of this country. Of the about Rs 6,000 crore that has been reduced vis-a-vis last year, Rs 5,000 crore has been reduced for primary education," Kumar said.
Aam Aadmi Party MP Narain Dass Gupta raised questions over the government's claim of development.
"If wheels of development are rolling at rapid pace, then why are Maharatna being sold?" Gupta asked.
He said while corporate tax has come down to 25 per cent, no concession has been given to partnerships firms and small and medium enterprises "Like the way tax has been reduced for corporates, the partnership firm, proprietary firm, who generate employment, drive manufacturing activity and trading activity, should also be considered," Gupta said.
He also claimed tax inspectors frequently violate Section 138 of the Income-tax Act by leaking information of raids to newspapers.
Gupta urged the government to make provision of minimum support price in the Budget.
Congress member Neeraj Dangi raised the issue of disinvestment and alleged that it will lead to the end of reservations in the country.
"Banks will be sold, ports will be sold, airports will be sold, railway stations have already been sold.
Entire railways and all government companies who have lakh of acres of land will be sold to the capitalists.
Even private partnership is being brought in profitable LIC," Dangi said.
He said the ruling party will try to end reservation once economic assets go into private hands as there is no provision of reservation in the private sector.
The Congress member said during the COVID-19 period there were large number of job losses and no relief has been given to the salaried class in the Budget.
"During COVID pandemic and lockdown, more than 2.1 crore jobs were finished. Despite this, the central government neither understood their mental status nor kept anything in this bill to show concern over their economic condition," he said.
IUML member Abdul Wahab said that the government must consider reducing central tax on petrol and diesel.
He said during the Manmohan Singh regime, a barrel of crude oil was costing around USD 160 but now it is only USD 65.
He also said countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh are selling petrol for around 60-70 Indian rupees, but in India, the prices are ruling close to Rs 100.