Reduce fuel prices significantly, rationalise GST: Tharoor

·3-min read

Chennai, Jul 16 (PTI) Accusing the Narendra Modi-led dispensation of 'using the tax on fuel as a means to fill the Centre's coffers,' Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Friday demanded the government to significantly reduce taxes and cess on fuel and import duty on essential commodities.

Besides, he also wanted the Centre to rationalise and simplify the GST rates on household items.

'We demand significant reduction in taxes and cess on fuel, reduce import duty on essential commodities,' he said.

Hitting out at the Centre for 'complete disregard' for the common man, the Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha MP claimed that the central government had collected about Rs 4.2 lakh crore last year by way of tax on petrol and diesel alone.

'This is three times more than the sum collected during its previous regime,' he said, addressing a press conference at TNCC headquarters Sathyamurthy Bhavan here.

The senior leader said during its tenure, the UPA government collected a cess of Rs 6.45 per litre on petrol and gave Rs 3 to the states.

'Now the BJP government has dramatically raised the prices of fuel and still the state governments are given Rs 3,' he added.

In a lighter vein he remarked, 'I see some of you wearing face masks. It's suffocating (to wear masks continuously). We are feeling all the more suffocated by the alarming rise in the prices of fuel during the last seven years of the BJP rule...it is outrageous,' Tharoor said.

Even the price of LPG had gone above the roof, he said and blamed the 'misrule and misadministration of economy' by the BJP government for the present crisis.

The increase in petrol and diesel prices was the 'worst in many ways,' he said and claimed that the centre gave little stimulus to the common man who is encountering problems due to the cascading effect on the prices of essential commodities.

Tharoor said the country was not reeling under ordinary inflation.

'There is neither a demand for goods due to a shortage in supplies nor so much money (circulating) with the people to afford as much as the prices go up,' he said.

He also questioned the Centre's contention of increase in international prices of oil.

'The international prices are increasing slowly. The government has been using taxes on fuel as a way to increase its own coffers. It has complete disregard for the concerns of the common people,' the MP alleged.

His party would raise this issue in addition to the closure of MSMEs in Tamil Nadu, farmers' agitation over the farm laws, increased deployment of Chinese forces near the border, and demand for a full-fledged enquiry into the Rafale deal when the Parliament session begins on Monday.

'The Congress will also raise the issue of the government's mismanagement of Covid-19 and the economy as well,' he added.

Stating that the 12 to 18 per cent GST on basic household items like toothpaste, fruits and nuts made no sense, he said 'GST is an indirect tax whereas the tax on income is direct and progressive because the rich pay more and the poor less.' 'But the GST under Modi rule has become an aggressive tax regime because the poor and the rich pay the same percentage of tax, irrespective of their earning capacities,' Tharoor remarked.

He also demanded the government extend a financial aid to the people and the unemployed.

On the inter-state row between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka over the latter's proposal to construct a dam on river Cauvery at Mekedatu, Tharoor batted for an amicable solution to the issue.PTI JSP SA SS PTI PTI PTI

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