High fuel prices a burden, Centre-states must talk: FM Nirmala Sitharaman

Finance Minister (FM) on Friday admitted that there is enough case for reducing as it’s a burden on consumers, adding both the Centre and the states should talk and address it.

The price of petrol has shot above the Rs 100 mark in some states and is at all-time high in most. The government had hiked excise duty on petrol and diesel last year to realise gains arising from international oil prices plunging to a two-decade low.

Addressing journalists at Indian Women’s Press Corps, the FM said the pricing is dharma sankat.

Both the Centre and the states draw revenues by taxing fuel, and 41 per cent of the tax collected by the Centre goes to the states, Sitharaman said. “So, there is an issue which is layered and it is matter that ideally the Centre and states should talk about.”

On whether bringing fuel under GST would address the issue, the FM said the call has to be taken by the GST Council. “They are well within their interest to take it up and discuss.”

Stimulus to be funded by borrowing, revenues

The fiscal stimulus would be funded by borrowings and revenues, and the taxpayers will not be charged even a single penny, said the FM.

“I am not expecting the stimulus to be funded by taxpayers. Not a rupee from the taxpayer. The entire amount …. is shown as revenue and borrowings. The government is borrowing to spend, but it is not taking from people,” she said.

I-T raids

Defending the recent income-tax (I-T) raids on filmmaker Anurag Kashyap and Bollywood actress Taapsee Pannu, Sitharaman said the same individuals were raided in 2013, but it wasn’t made into an issue then.

Without commenting on individual cases, the FM said it’s in the national interest to check if some evasion is happening.

The I-T department on Wednesday raided the residences and offices of Pannu and Kashyap, leading to criticism from Opposition parties as both are outspoken critics of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party government.

“I am not commenting on a particular case. But I want to ask, should we raise questions whether there was a serious omission and commission, or should we raise a question about ‘oh it’s happening now’? Please look back. It happened in 2013 (also),” Sitharaman said.

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