Even as the Centre is in a "dharm sankat" over skyrocketing fuel prices, four states are trying to make lives easier for its residents. Poll-bound states of Assam and West Bengal, Rajasthan and Meghalaya have taken the lead with tax cuts to offer consumers relief.
West Bengal was the latest to join the band as it reduced VAT by Re 1 on petrol and diesel on Sunday. State Finance Minister Amit Mitra said the move would provide some respite to people affected by the rapidly-increasing prices of fuel, reported PTI. “To reduce the common man’s burden, the state government has decided to allow a rebate of Re 1 per litre on sales tax payable on sales of petrol and diesel w.e.f. [with effect from] the end of midnight of 22nd February, 2021 till 30th day of June, 2021,” he tweeted.
Rajasthan was the first to move on January 29, reducing VAT from 38 per cent to 36 per cent.
Assam followed suit on February 12 by withdrawing additional tax of Rs 5 imposed last year to fund fight against Covid-19 pandemic. Meghalaya has given the biggest relief of Rs 7.40 on petrol and Rs 7.10 on diesel, first with a rebate of Rs 2 followed by VAT reduction on petrol from 31.62 per cent to 20 per cent and from 22.95 per cent to 12 per cent on diesel.
However, the central government has refused the cut excise duty it had raised by Rs 13 on petrol and Rs 16 on diesel a litre between March and May 2020. At the time, the price of crude oil had fallen to Rs $19.9 a barrel (approximately Rs 1,443.93 per barrel).
In the past few days, fuel prices have skyrocketed with petrol costing over Rs 100 in some areas of the country. However, there was no change in fuel prices across the four metropolitan cities on Monday.
In Kolkata, petrol cost Rs 91.78 a litre, while the price of diesel was Rs 84.56 a litre. Petrol price stayed at Rs 90.58 in Delhi, while diesel was priced at Rs 80.97 per litre. In Chennai, petrol cost Rs 92.59 and diesel Rs 85.98 a litre. Petrol price was Rs 97 per litre in Mumbai, while diesel cost Rs 88.06 per litre.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday called the fuel price hike a "vexatious issue", which required dialogue between the Centre and the states to relieve the consumers. The finance minister pointed out that both the Centre and the states had been generating revenue through the retail sale of petrol and diesel.