BHUBANESWAR: Finance Minister Niranjan Pujari on Tuesday expressed reluctance to slash VAT on petrol and diesel even as members cutting across party lines expressed concern over the unprecedented rise in fuel prices and demanded immediate steps to bring it back to the normal range.
The issue cropped up for discussion in the Assembly through an adjournment motion notice given by the Opposition Congress and BJP members. Earlier, three Congress MLAs - Tara Prasad Bahinipati, Suresh Kumar Routray and Adhiraj Panigrahi - came to the Assembly from the Congress Bhavan riding bicycles to register their protest on skyrocketing fuel prices.
Making a statement in response to the demand by the BJP and Congress to reduce VAT on petrol and diesel, the Finance Minister expressed his reluctance by stating that the State government collects less revenue from petrol and diesel compared to the Centre. Besides, revenue collected from petrol and diesel by the State government is spent on welfare measures, he said, making it clear that the government is not ready to accede to their demands.
The price of petrol in Bhubaneswar on February 23 was Rs 91.66 per litre. Of this, the basic price fixed by the petroleum companies is Rs 33.68 per litre. Excise duty, additional excise duty, infrastructure cess and agriculture infrastructure development cess is Rs 1.40, Rs 11, Rs 18 and Rs 2.50 per litre respectively, the Minister informed.
This way, the Centre collects Rs 32.9 from one litre of petrol while the State government collects Rs 21.4 per litre of petrol by imposing 40 per cent VAT, he said and added that in a similar way, Centre collects Rs 31.80 from a litre of diesel while the State government gets Rs 18.9 by imposing 28 per cent VAT.
Diesel price at Bhubaneswar on Tuesday was Rs 88.63 per litre. The basic price, excise duty, additional excise duty, infrastructure cess and agriculture infrastructure development cess was Rs 1.80, Rs 8, Rs 18 and Rs 4 per litre respectively.
Stating that the fuel price hike has affected common people severely, Bahinipati demanded that both the Centre and State should slash taxes imposed on petrol and diesel. Deputy Leader of the Opposition Bishnu Charan Sethi, however, demanded that the Odisha government should reduce VAT on petrol and diesel as has been done by some other states to reduce prices in the interest of common people.