Kolkata: In view of the rising price of fuel in the country and the Centre's unceasing apathy towards the same, the Mamata Banerjee government announced the decision to withdraw Re 1 cess on both petrol and diesel.
This comes at a time when the BJP-led government at the Centre has increased excise duty nine times despite a fall in the global oil prices. The Centre has increased the tax by Rs 10 and Rs 11.77 on a litre of petrol and diesel respectively. On the contrary, the Bengal government had neither increased the tax on the same nor the cess has gone up in the past few years.
After announcing the withdrawal of Re 1 cess on petrol and diesel in the state, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also demanded the withdrawal of duty that was imposed by the Centre on petrol and diesel prices.
While leaving Nabanna on Tuesday evening, the Chief Minister said: "Unlike other states, we are repaying a huge debt of Rs 48,000 crore. In such a situation, the decision has been taken to withdraw the cess to help the common man as our government is a pro-people one."
She also took a dig at the Centre saying that petrol and diesel prices are going up every day. "It is the outcome of total financial mismanagement and no one even bothers to take the necessary steps to bring about some stability," Banerjee said adding that the petrol price in January 2016 was Rs 65.12 per litre and it went up to Rs 81.60 in September. Similarly, the diesel price went up to Rs 73.26 per litre at the beginning of September while the price was Rs 48.80 in January 2016.
"The hefty increase in the prices of petrol and diesel by Rs 16.48 per litre and Rs 24.46 per litre respectively is hitting the common man," the Chief Minister said and stated it to be a manner in which "the BJP-led government is punishing the masses".
It may be mentioned that the BJP government has increased tax on petrol from Rs 9.48 per litre to Rs 19.48. Again, in case of diesel, the duty imposed by the Centre increased from Rs 3.56 per litre to Rs 15.33 per litre. The state doesn't get any share of the duty imposed by the Centre.
She further added that some states are trying to reduce their taxes by Re 1 or Rs 1.50 on petroleum products with an eye on the forthcoming elections there. "Andhra Pradesh had reduced it by Rs 2 as there is election in some time and they do not have the burden of huge debt like Bengal."
Both the common man and the West Bengal Petroleum Dealers' Association have welcomed the move of the Chief Minister.
In a statement, Ramesh Agarwal, president, Merchants' Chamber of Commerce and Industry has welcomed the move of the state government to reduce prices of petrol and diesel by Re 1 per litre.