PM Modi flags higher fuel price in Opposition-ruled States, seeks reduction in VAT

PM Modi said the Centre had reduced excise duties on petrol and diesel in November to reduce the price burden on people

PM Modi said the Centre had reduced excise duties on petrol and diesel in November to reduce the price burden on people

Some States did not pass on the benefits of reduction of the excise duty on petrol and diesel by the Central government leading to higher cost of petrol and diesel there. “These States should bring in immediate remedial measures to stop this injustice,’’ said Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday.

He appealed to States to ensure Centre–State cooperation stating that this is the need of the hour because of the war situation when the global community is under stress and is facing challenges caused by disruption in the supply chain and rising cases of COVID–19 again.

At an interaction with Chief Ministers on the emerging Covid-19 situation, the Prime Minister said along with the pandemic challenges, the global community and the common man are facing the fall out of a war.

“The situation of war which has arisen has affected the supply chain and in such an environment, the challenges are increasing day by day,” said Mr. Modi in an apparent reference to the Russia–Ukraine conflict.

“India fought a long fight against corona with the spirit of cooperative federalism. In the current global scenario, for the strength of India’s economy, coordination between the Central and State governments in economic decisions is necessary. In the conditions imposed by global events, this spirit of cooperative federalism becomes all the more important,’’ he said in the context of petrol and diesel prices.

The Prime Minister said to reduce the load of both prices, the Central government has reduced the excise duty and had requested the States also to do so. Some States reduced taxes but some did not pass on the benefits to the people, leading to higher fuel prices there.

“This is not only injustice towards the people of the State but harms the neighbouring States also. States like Karnataka and Gujarat undertook the tax reduction for the welfare of the people despite revenue loss while their neighbouring States earned revenue by not reducing tax.’’

Similarly, the Prime Minister said that last November a request was made to reduce VAT but many States, most of which are non–BJP–ruled ones like Maharashtra, West Bengal, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Jharkhand did not do so for some reason.

The Prime Minister said 42% of the revenue at the Centre goes to the State governments. “I urge all the States to work as a team in this time of global crisis following the spirit of cooperative federalism.”

On the recent increase in
cases in some States and about the need to follow test, track, treat, vaccination and ensure appropriate behaviour, the PM said the pandemic challenge is not fully over.

“Omicron and its subvariants can create problems as evident by the case of many countries of Europe. The subvariants are causing many surges in many countries. India has been able to deal with the situation better than many countries. Still, in the last two weeks, increasing cases in some of the States show that we need to stay alert.’’

The Prime Minister said the Omicron wave was handled with determination and without panic and in the last two years, all aspects of the corona fight — whether, health infrastructure, oxygen supply or vaccination — have been strengthened. In the third wave, none of the States saw the situation going out of control. This, the Prime Minister said, should be seen in the context of the massive vaccination drive.

He said vaccine reached each and every person and it is a matter of pride that 96% adult population is vaccinated with at least one dose and about 84% people above 15 years of age have received both the doses. Vaccine, as per experts, is the biggest safeguard against the virus, he said.

The Prime Minister said schools have opened after long time and some parents are worried over the increased number of cases in some places. He expressed satisfaction that more and more children are getting the vaccine. He said that in March, the campaign to vaccinate those between 12 and 14 years was started and only yesterday [Tuesday], permission has been granted for Covaxin vaccine for children between 6 and 12 .

“Our priority is to vaccinate all eligible children at the earliest. For this, as before, special campaigns will also be needed in schools. Teachers and parents should be aware about this,” said the Prime Minister. Precautionary dose is available for all adults to strengthen the vaccine protective shield. Teachers, parents and other eligible people can take it, he said.

The Prime Minister emphasised on the need to test serious influenza cases and genome sequencing of the positive cases, Covid appropriate behaviour and avoid panic. He also emphasised on continued upgradation of health infrastructure and medical manpower.

The Prime Minister pointed out that with increasing temperature, fire incidents in forests and buildings are increasing. He specially asked for the fire safety audits of the hospitals. He said our arrangements for meeting this challenge should be comprehensive and response time should be the minimum.

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