Accusing the Narendra Modi-leddispensation of “using the tax on fuel as a means to fill theCentres coffers,” Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Fridaydemanded the government to significantly reduce taxes and cesson fuel and import duty on essential commodities.
Besides, he also wanted the Centre to rationalise andsimplify the GST rates on household items.
“We demand significant reduction in taxes and cess onfuel, reduce import duty on essential commodities,” he said.
Hitting out at the Centre for “complete disregard” forthe common man, the Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha MP claimedthat the central government had collected about Rs 4.2 lakhcrore last year by way of tax on petrol and diesel alone.
“This is three times more than the sum collectedduring its previous regime,” he said, addressing a pressconference at TNCC headquarters Sathyamurthy Bhavan here.
The senior leader said during its tenure, the UPAgovernment collected a cess of Rs 6.45 per litre on petrol andgave Rs 3 to the states.
“Now the BJP government has dramatically raised theprices of fuel and still the state governments are given Rs3,” he added.
In a lighter vein he remarked, “I see some of youwearing face masks. Its suffocating (to wear maskscontinuously). We are feeling all the more suffocated by thealarming rise in the prices of fuel during the last sevenyears of the BJP rule…it is outrageous,” Tharoor said.
Even the price of LPG had gone above the roof, he saidand blamed the “misrule and misadministration of economy” bythe 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 gavelittle stimulus to the common man who is encountering problemsdue to the cascading effect on the prices of essentialcommodities.
Tharoor said the country was not reeling underordinary inflation.
“There is neither a demand for goods due to a shortagein supplies nor so much money (circulating) with the people toafford as much as the prices go up,” he said.
He also questioned the Centres contention of increasein international prices of oil.
“The international prices are increasing slowly. Thegovernment has been using taxes on fuel as a way to increaseits own coffers. It has complete disregard for the concerns ofthe common people,” the MP alleged.
His party would raise this issue in addition to theclosure of MSMEs in Tamil Nadu, farmers agitation over thefarm laws, increased deployment of Chinese forces near theborder, and demand for a full-fledged enquiry into the Rafaledeal when the Parliament session begins on Monday.
“The Congress will also raise the issue of thegovernments mismanagement of Covid-19 and the economy aswell,” he added.
Stating that the 12 to 18 per cent GST on basichousehold items like toothpaste, fruits and nuts made nosense, he said “GST is an indirect tax whereas the tax onincome is direct and progressive because the rich pay more andthe poor less.” “But the GST under Modi rule has become an aggressivetax regime because the poor and the rich pay the samepercentage of tax, irrespective of their earning capacities,”Tharoor remarked.
He also demanded the government extend a financialaid to the people and the unemployed.
On the inter-state row between Tamil Nadu andKarnataka over the latters proposal to construct a dam onriver Cauvery at Mekedatu, Tharoor batted for an amicablesolution to the issue.
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