September 25, 2020

‘Mockery of pain’ chant on fuel price

Patna: The 1-paisa dip in petrol and diesel prices on Wednesday after a two-week continuous spurt sparked anger among residents as their hopes for a major decline were shattered.

Petrol now costs Rs 83.84 and diesel Rs 73.96 per litre in Patna. “We began to call these days the retreat of Aah Din (painful days) when we see no respite from the skyrocketing prices of fuel,” said Sunny Kumar, a resident.

He added that it is very hard to survive under these governments (NDA regime at the Centre and in Bihar). “The prices of all essential items like food and transport have increased to such levels that it is very difficult to manage for a person in the lower income group,” Sunny said.

However, during the Karnataka elections the prices remained unchanged from May 11 to May 17, after that the state-owned oil companies resorted to passing off the burden of rising international oil prices on consumers.

“My monthly cost of fuel increased by at least Rs 600-700 in the past six months,” said Sayed Hassan, a government employee, adding: “The government use fuel prices for electoral benefits when it comes to win elections and then the price rise comes to a standstill.”

“It’s a mockery of people’s sufferings as we expected more decline on price. Our cost of transportation has increased substantially. Not only this, prices of other necessities have also sharply increased due to the rise in fuel prices,” said Kishun Kumar, a businessman.

Apart from the excise duty imposed and collected by the central government the Bihar government also imposes VAT on petrol and diesel which is approximately 24 per cent and 19 per cent respectively at present, said a senior official in the Bihar Petroleum Dealers’ Association.

Moreover, the state government imposes surcharges which come under State Specific Cost (SSC), it is around 20 per cent presently on both. About two years ago, it was 10 per cent, he said when asked why fuel prices are high in Bihar.

Deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi, on Saturday said bringing petroleum products under the ambit of GST will not have much impact in reducing its prices. “It’s a misconception, instead the move will only have minor impact on the prices of petrol and diesel,” said Sushil who also heads the GST network panel in the state.

He also said there is unanimity in the GST council over exclusion of petroleum products from the new tax regime.

In the meantime, the state-owned oil companies on Wednesday morning announced a reduction in petrol price by 60 paise and diesel by 56 paise. But within hours of the announcement, they revised it citing a clerical error and re-announced the cut to just 1 paisa a litre each on petrol and diesel.

Prabhat Kumar Sinha President Bihar Petroleum Dealers Association said: “Currently the state government imposes VAT on petrol 26 per cent and on diesel 19 per cent.” Apart from VAT, the Bihar government also imposes surcharges on petroleum companies. It is around 26 per cent on petrol on diesel both. The surcharges comes under state specific cost (SSC) which is different in other states.

Earlier (nearly two years ago), there were 10 per cent surcharge on petrol but diesel was exempted from the surcharge. Now the state government puts 20 per cent surcharge on both petrol and diesel. But it is charged on petroleum companies. The petroleum companies who already pay VAT to state government add the amount of surcharge on basic prices.

Therefore the price of petroleum is higher in Bihar.

Courtesy: The Telegraph

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