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Centre would be happy to bring petrol, diesel under GST, but states are unwilling: says Hardeep Puri


New Delhi: Amid the verbal war between the Centre and the Opposition over the fuel taxes, Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Friday said that the Centre would be happy to bring petrol and diesel under the GST regime but states are not willing to do so.

‘My understanding is the Centre would be happy in bringing petrol and diesel under GST… the fact of the matter is that the states aren’t willing for same. They make a killing from revenues of petrol, diesel and alcohol…when debt rises they blame others…Punjab is the case in example’, the minister told ANI.

The Union Minister took a dig at the Opposition and said that the government has ‘assumed its responsibility’ in the fuel sector and the states should also take the onus on the issue of slashing the value-added taxes on petrol and diesel. ‘Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been consistent. He has advocated for the best spirit of cooperative federalism pertaining to the issue of livelihoods. Burden sharing need not be equal, the Center has assumed its responsibility in the fuel sector, the states too should take onus’, he said.

The Union Minister also referred to the impact of Russia-Ukraine conflict on fuel prices. ‘We’re yet to recover from a pandemic, still feeding 80 crore people and looking after vaccines. There was military action in Ukraine…Oil prices went up from USD19.56/barrel to USD130…Centre charged Rs 32 excise on petrol-diesel, before Diwali we reduced it and rates went down’, he said. ‘Fuel price hike under Modi period is lowest. It’s 30 per cent and not 80 per cent, basic salaries have increased over decades. Along with that, government is giving free schemes to people under various categories’, the minister added.

The Union Minister hit out at the Opposition-ruled states for their criticism over the fuel taxes and claimed that the BJP-ruled states charge half the VAT amount than the non-BJP states. ‘BJP states are charging VAT half the amount of what non-BJP states are doing…There’s a difference of Rs15-Rs20 in retail prices of petrol between BJP and non-BJP states’, he said.

The Minister also said that India imports a very small portion of its oil requirements from Russia and was open to buying it if the terms were right. He said India has to look after its interests. ‘We’re situated close to gulf countries like Iran which has lot of oil…We’ve energy relations with Russia, we buy crude from them but our total imports are not more than 0.2 per cent, we’re open to buying if terms are right, we’ve to look after our interests’, Puri said.


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