Mamata Banerjee accuses central govt of arbitrarily increasing prices of petrol, diesel

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Kolkata: In a letter written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday accused the Central government of arbitrarily increasing the prices of petrol and diesel, besides alleging that the Centre is taking away the state’s share of revenue by increasing the cess amount which is against the federal structure of the country.

“I have come to learn that petrol and diesel prices were hiked by your government eight times since May 4, 2021, and out of these, prices were hiked six times in the month of June only and shockingly, four times in one week. These cruel hikes in petrol and diesel prices have affected the common people most adversely and have directly impacted the dangerously rising inflation in the country,” the Chief Minister wrote in the letter.

“You are aware that the Wholesale Price Index (WPI) in the country rose by 12.94 per cent in May 2021, compared to May 2020. Similarly, the Consumer Price Index rose by 6.30 per cent where the prices of edible oils used by the common people every day rose by 30.8 per cent, eggs by 15.2 per cent, fruits by 12 per cent and health related items, in the middle of the pandemic, by as much as 8.44 per cent,” she added.

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“In fact, over the last six years of your government, the Government of India’s tax collection from oil and petroleum products has jumped by a staggering 370 per cent since 2014-15 due to the constant hikes in Central Excise Duty on oil and petroleum products, including cesses and surcharges, at the cost of the common people,” the Chief Minister alleged.

She further said that in the middle of the Covid pandemic, the Government of India had collected revenues worth a staggering Rs 3.71 lakh crore from oil and petroleum products in the financial year 2020-21.

“Here I may mention that the government of West Bengal has voluntarily given a rebate to both petrol and diesel as a token of our empathy for the common people. I am also alarmed by the fact that the Government of India is constantly increasing the cess component of Central tax revenues which results in denying the states their legitimate share of 42 per cent of tax collected by the Government of India, since cess accrues wholly with the Government of India, without sharing with the states. I sincerely urge you to desist from the anti-federalist trend developed in the last few years,” the Chief Minister said.

Expressing ‘deep concern and anguish’ over the hardships being faced by the common people of the country, Banerjee said, “It is my earnest request that the taxes charged by the Central government on petrol and diesel be substantially reduced to give much-needed relief to the common people and also to check the overall inflationary trend in the country today.”