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Dubey puts price ball in Centre’s court

Ranchi, May 25: BJP leader and Godda MP Nishikant Dubey today urged chief minister Arjun Munda to rationalise Value Added Tax (VAT) on petrol while demanding that the Centre should also do its bit by minimising excise and custom duty.

Speaking to mediapersons, Dubey, a former senior executive of Essar Group, argued that the Centre charged 37 per cent excise duty and 2 per cent customs duty on petroleum while the Jharkhand government levied 20 per cent VAT. “So before asking the state government to either rationalise VAT or grant subsidy on petrol, the Centre should first minimise the taxes that are under its direct control,” the MP said.

However, Dubey refused to be drawn into arguments over perceptions that BJP-ruled states usually seem reluctant to grant subsidies on petrol, LPG and such other commodities as a political tactic to show the Congress-led government at the Centre in poor light.

Instead, he criticised the Centre, especially Union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee. “It is ridiculous that the finance minister believes that Tsunami in Japan and such other developments in the recent past have led to the steep rise in petrol prices. But India never faced such crises even when economic sanctions were imposed on it in 1998 following the nuke tests,” he argued.

The MP stressed that common people, especially marginal farmers or petty traders, were bearing the major brunt.

“The Congress is an undemocratic party. The Parliament session ended on May 22 and petrol prices were raised by about Rs 7.50 per litre the next day. Public representatives cutting across party lines were kept in the dark when Parliament was in session,” he said.

Taking a dig at Ranchi MP Subodh Kant Sahay, who happens to be the lone representative from Jharkhand in the Manmohan Singh cabinet, Dubey claimed that the state had tremendous growth potential in the tourism sector but the Union tourism minister was not utilising it.