Amid the recent hike in the prices of petrol and diesel being attributed to wavering market price of crude oil, the ASSOCHAM, while dismissing the same, stated that even though the pricing regime is linked to market-determined rates, a sharp hike in taxes in the form of excise and sales tax or VAT by the Centre and the states distorted the path of reforms.
Maken said on August 2, 2017, the BJP Government chose to increase the dealer commission on petrol by Re 1 per litre and on diesel 72 paise per litre, the cost of which was passed on to the consumers.
"The Congress will launch a nationwide agitation against this burdening of the common man with increased taxes and flooding the coffers of the government", Mr Maken told the media.
"We shall fight this battle to reduce taxes nationwide and challenge the BJP to come out with a white paper". The party also charged the government for giving absurd reasons like "Hurricane Harvey and Irma" on the increase of petrol and diesel prices.
Speaking to reporters, the former Union Minister said: "The one million signatures thus collected will be presented to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to express the people's anguish at the unchecked rise in the prices of petrol and diesel".
"While the global crude oil prices have come down by more than 52 per cent since May 2014, when Modi government came to power, the petrol prices have skyrocketed to a three-year high. The government has earned a windfall of around Rs 2.5 lakh crore due to reduction in crude oil prices", Maken added.
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He further informed that the total contribution of petroleum to the central and state treasury have crossed 5-lakh crore mark at Rs 5,24,304 crore in 2016-17.
"The price of a subsidised LPG cylinder has gone up from Rs 412 in 2014 to Rs 487", said Maken adding the kerosene users too had been impacted.
"This is being done when the worldwide prices of gas have gone down by 35 per cent in three years", he said.
Maken accused the BJP government of hiking the excise duty on petrol and diesel by 11 times. Now with the fuel prices rising the party demanded whether the NDA government should also be termed as "economic terrorist".
"The Wholesale Price Index (WPI) rose to a four-month high to 3.24 per cent from a year ago".
He also said that the rise in the prices of petrol and diesel has affected the transport sector leading to a cascading effect on the prices of all essential commodities. "Food inflation was driven by rising price trends of onion at 88.46 per cent, vegetables at 44.91 per cent, and fruits at 7.35 per cent, and milk at 3.94 per cent".
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