Expressing concern over the rising fuel prices, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to lower the taxes charged by the Centre on petrol and diesel “to check the overall inflation” in the country.
In her communication, Banerjee said that the Centre has been constantly increasing the cess component of central tax revenues, which resulted in denying the states their legitimate share.
“I would like to draw your attention to the government of India policy which has brought great distress among the common people of the country. Shockingly, the retail price of petrol in many states across the county has crossed an unprecedented Rs 100 per litre,” she wrote.
Noting that petrol and diesel prices were hiked eight times since May, of which six times were in June alone, she said the fuel price hike has adversely affected common people and directly impacted inflation in the country.
She referred to the rise of the Wholesale Price Index and the Consumer Price Index in the country by 12.94 per cent and 6.30 per cent respectively, as well as prices of edible oils, eggs and fruits and health-related items.
“Much of this inflation was triggered by the petrol and diesel price hikes,” she said.
Banerjee said in her letter that amid this pandemic, the Centre has collected revenue of Rs 3.71 lakh crore from oil and petroleum products in the 2020-21 financial year.
The Chief Minister said that the Central government’s tax collection from oil and petroleum products has jumped by 370 per cent since 2014-15 due to a constant increase in central excise duty on oil and petroleum products, including cesses and surcharges.
“I am also alarmed by the fact that the Government of India is constantly increasing the cess component of central tax revenues which results in denying the states its legitimate share of 42 per cent of the tax collected by the Centre, since cess accrues wholly with them without sharing with the states. I sincerely urge you to desist from the anti-federalist trend developed in the last few years,” the letter read.
Banerjee also stated that her government has voluntarily given a rebate to both petrol and diesel “as a token of our empathy for the common people”.
“It is my earnest request that the taxes charged by the Centre on petrol and diesel are substantially reduced to give much-needed relief to people and check the overall inflation trend in the country,” she added.