Opposition slams Odisha govt for hiking VAT on fuel amid COVID-19 crisis

Bhubaneswar: The opposition Congress and BJP hit out at the Odisha government on Sunday for raising the rate of Value Added Tax (VAT) on petrol and diesel.

While VAT on petrol has been raised from 26 per cent to 32 per cent, it was hiked to 28 per cent on diesel. The new price came into effect on Saturday midnight, official sources said.

The price of petrol per litre is up by Rs 3.11, it has gone up by Rs 1.03 per litre in case of diesel, they said.

This is not the proper time to hike the price of fuel when the people are passing through the worst period of their lives due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is something which can be described as a burden on the people, state Congress president Niranjan Patnaik said.

Leader of Opposition P K Naik of the BJP said, It is a fact that there is heavy pressure on the states finance due to the pandemic and subsequent lockdown. But, that does not mean additional pressure will be put on the people who are already finding it difficult to make both ends meet.

Commerce and Transport Minister Padmanabh Behera, however, said that the price of fuel will not be a burden on the people.

The price is much within the limit. The government has no intention to burden the people, he said.

General Secretary of the Utkal Petroleum Dealers Association Sanjay Lath also criticised the state governments move.

The people should get the benefit when there is a decline in the price of petroleum products in the international market. This is not the proper time to increase the price, he said.

The retail price of petrol in Bhubaneswar on Sunday was Rs 71.72 per litre, and diesel Rs 67.73 per litre.

In a statement, the state government said that the additional revenue from fuel sales would be utilised for delivery of services in health, education and other social sectors.

The Centre increased the cess and excise duty by Rs 10 per litre on petrol and Rs 13 per litre of diesel on May 5.

With the increase in the rate of VAT, the state government will collect Rs 16.60 per litre on petrol and Rs 14.34 per litre on diesel.

Finance Department officials also argued that the retail price of petrol in Bhubaneswar is less than most other cities in the country even after the hike. Similarly, the price of diesel in Bhubaneswar is at par or even less than other state capitals.

(PTI)

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