New Delhi: Soaring petrol and diesel prices may be causing a massive financial burden on people at large but there appears no respite in sight. And while the government is under fire for not bringing fuel prices under GST, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has repeatedly attempted to douse the proverbial flames with statements which include words like hoping, requesting, appealing and trying.
It has come to a nought.
It is mostly agreed that bringing fuel prices under GST would help significantly reduce taxes imposed on petrol and diesel - a key component behind the currently record-high prices. Pradhan has repeatedly said he has taken the matter up with the GST Council, each time expressing confidence. So far, his confidence has been rather ill-founded.
On September 17 of 2017, he said: We have appealed to all the states and finance ministry (to bring petroleum items under GST). Looking into the consumer interest, there must be tax rationalisation. (Read the full report here)
On January 21 of 2018, he said: We are trying that petrol, diesel and kerosene should also come under the ambit of GST. We are hopeful that the GST Council will agree to it shortly. (Read the full report here)
On April 2, he said: We are sensitive regarding petrol and diesel price hike. We have advocated for bringing petroleum products under Goods and Services Tax (GST). We want GST Council to soon take a decision regarding this. I am hopeful that petroleum products will also come under GST soon. (Read the full report here)
On April 5, he said: We want petroleum products to be brought under the domain of GST. My ministry has even written to the Ministry of Finance in this regard on several occasions. Many states are against this. (Read the full report here)
On April 5, a litre of petrol was at Rs 73.98 in Delhi. On May 25, it retailed at Rs 77.83 in the city. Pradhan's letters, perhaps, have not been making any headway in a GST Council which has representatives from all states including 21 where BJP is either in power directly or in an alliance.
And even as the opposition slams the government in New Delhi, reports say none of the opposition CMs in states like Punjab and Karnataka have even tabled the matter in all their meetings so far. Economic analysts agree that fuel prices in GST would not only cause a fall in cash flowing into coffers of the central government but that of state governments too.
In such a precarious scenario, where inflationary trends may rear its head at any time, Pradhan's attempts at restoring normalcy has been rather hollow even if the call for including petrol and diesel in GST is not for him to make. Critics argue that as oil minister, he should at least have a bigger say - and an even bigger intent on providing relief.