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Fuel price hike: Opposition UDF walks out of Kerala Assembly

 The Opposition UDF staged a walkout in the assembly on Tuesday to protest the huge hike in fuel price and the state government’s unwillingness to reduce its share of taxes.

Published: 03rd November 2021 06:21 AM  |   Last Updated: 03rd November 2021 06:21 AM   |  A+A-

Vehicles caught in a traffic jam at Vyttila in Kochi on Monday following the blockade organised by District Congress Committee against the high fuel prices | Arun Angela

By Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Opposition UDF staged a walkout in the assembly on Tuesday to protest the huge hike in fuel price and the state government’s unwillingness to reduce its share of taxes. The government on its part assured the House that it would continue to exert pressure on the Centre to get the taxes on fuel reduced. Shafi Parambil of the Congress, who gave notice for an adjournment motion to discuss the issue, accused the state government of facilitating the ‘loot’ being carried out by the Centre.

He terms the fuel price hike as “state-sponsored tax terror” and nothing short of “daylight robbery.” Shafi reminded the House that the huge tax on fuel is not imposed by oil companies but by the government. He reminded that the UDF government led by Oommen Chandy had reduced the state’s share of tax on fuel to the tune of Rs 600 crore for the benefit of the common man.

He urged the LDF not to take over the ‘quotation’ to whitewash and defend the BJP government at the Centre. “The first culprit of the huge fuel price hike is the Central government. The Centre claims to have spent Rs 35,000 crore for providing vaccines. But they aim to use it as a bogey and collect Rs 3.90 lakh crore through huge taxes on fuel.

The state government should also be willing to reduce its share of tax,” said Shafi. Opposition Leader V D Satheesan assailed the LDF for insinuating that the fuel price crisis was caused by the UPA government which deregulated the price of petrol when it was in power. He said deregulation of fuel prices would have benefited the common man had not the government imposed an exorbitant tax over it. Satheesan asked why the price of LPG was skyrocketing despite its rate not being deregulated.

“We should remember that while the Centre is increasing tax on fuel, the state government is also earning additional revenue proportionately. Why can’t the state government forego this additional revenue and provide fuel subsidy to ease the burden on the common man?,” Satheesan asked. Finance Minister K N Balagopal said the Centre has hiked the cess and additional special duty on petrol and diesel in such a manner that fuel price will remain high even if the price of crude oil comes down globally.

The minister said the Centre is collecting Rs 31.5 per litre of fuel in the form the cess, additional tax and agriculture cess. This revenue is not shared with the states. The rate of hike of tax on petrol and diesel since 2014 stands at 281% and 1325% respectively, he said. “The LDF government has never hiked tax on fuel for the past five years. On the contrary, it has reduced the tax in 2018. Meanwhile, the Centre has amended the tax structure without sharing revenue with the states and has also affected a huge hike in its share of tax in a short period,” Balagopal pointed out.



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