New Delhi:- A day after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that there will be no cut in excise duty on fuel as the previous UPA government had reduced fuel prices by issuing Oil Bonds of Rs 1.44 lakh crore, the Congress has hit back by saying that the government since 2014-15 has spent Rs 73,440 crore on servicing oil bonds and collected Rs 22.34 lakh crore through taxes on petroleum products.
Addressing a press conference at the party headquarters here on Tuesday, Congress leader and former union minister Ajay Maken said, “Official figures expose BJP’s oil bond falsehood. Since 2014-15 the Modi government has spent Rs 73,440 crore on servicing of oil bonds and against this, they have collected Rs 22.34 lakh crore through taxes on petroleum products.” Maken pointed out that spending on servicing of oil bonds is just 3.2 per cent of the tax collection from petroleum products.
He said that in the current fiscal also, the government has only a liability to pay Rs 20,000 crore in the form of bond repayment and interest on the outstanding oil bonds. At the present rates, the government is expected to collect Rs 5 lakh crore from taxes on petroleum products.
He said that the real reason is not oil bonds but reduction in subsidy by 12 times and increase in taxes by three times.
The former union minister said, “In 2020-21 alone, tax on petrol-diesel was Rs 4.53 lakh crore. It is three times more than 2013-14.” He said that the BJP raised central taxes on petrol and diesel by Rs 23.87 and Rs 28.37 per litre in the last seven years. He said that the government collected additional Rs 1.89 lakh crore every year.
Slamming the government for high taxation on fuel, Maken said, “Modi government has extorted Rs 22,33,868 crore by levying excise on petrol-diesel in the last seven years.”
Citing the official figures of petroleum planning and analysis cell, he said that during the UPA government, it gave subsidy on petroleum products to the tune of Rs 1.64 lakh crore in 2012-13 and Rs 1.47 lakh crore in 2013-14. “On the contrary, the present Modi government drastically reduced this amount year after year to Rs 12,231 crore in 2020-21,” he said.
Maken said, “Since the lockdown, the increase on excise duties on petrol and diesel has surpassed all forms of exploitation and extortion.” He said that on March 5 last year excise duty on petrol and diesel was increased by Rs 3 per litre. On May 5 last year, government increased the excise duty on diesel by Rs 13 per litre and on petrol by Rs 10 per litre.
“In the last 15 months, the insensitive BJP government has raised petrol and diesel rates by Rs 32.25 and Rs 27.58 per litre respectively,” he said.
He demanded the government should immediately roll back increase in excise duties, so as to bring those to the level of excise duties prevailing during the 2014-UPA government. “The excise duty of Rs 23.87 on petrol and Rs 28.37 on diesel should be reduced,” he said.
He also compared the price of crude oil during UPA and the Modi government and said that when the Congress government demitted office in 2014, and Modi government came to power, at that time the prices of crude oil in international market were $108 per barrel and at that time petrol was being sold at Rs 71.51 per litre and diesel at Rs 57.28 per litre. And today the prices of crude oil in international market is $69.22 per barrel, which means the prices of crude oil has come down by 36 per cent in the international market, but, in India prices of petrol has registered an increase of 42 per cent and is being sold at Rs 101.84 and diesel prices have been increased by 57 per cent and is being sold at Rs 89.87 per litre, he said.
He also alleged that because of lowering of corporate taxes, the government needs more money to match its spendings. “The cost of lower corporate tax rates for the government, is being borne by citizens in the form of higher petrol and diesel prices,” he said.
He said that the gross tax revenue as a percentage of the GDP reached an all-time high of 12.11 per cent in 2007-08. The gross tax revenue was at 11.22 per cent of the GDP in 2017-18 and fell to 10.25 per cent of the GDP in 2020-21.
“To compensate for this to some extent, the government has increased the excise duty on petroleum products. Hence, it is only fair to say that the cost of lower corporate tax rates for the government, is being borne by citizens in the form of higher petrol and diesel prices,” he said.
Maken demanded the government to pass the benefit of reduced international crude oil prices to the people and the rates of petrol-diesel-LPG gas be reduced accordingly, petrol and diesel should be brought under the GST.