CM Das rules out VAT cut on fuel

Chief minister Raghubar Das is learnt to have turned down BJP state president Laxman Gilua's request to reduce Value Added Tax (VAT) on fuel saying revenue earned from it was required to run welfare projects for the poor and build infrastructure.

By Our Correspondent in Ranchi
  • Published 13.09.18
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CLEAN ENERGY: CM Raghubar Das takes a spin in an electric car after flagging off a fleet of 20 such vehicles from Project Building in Ranchi on Wednesday. (Prashant Mitra)

Ranchi: Chief minister Raghubar Das is learnt to have turned down BJP state president Laxman Gilua's request to reduce Value Added Tax (VAT) on fuel saying revenue earned from it was required to run welfare projects for the poor and build infrastructure.

"There is no immediate plan to revise VAT on petrol and diesel. Prices are governed at the international market. The revenue earned from VAT is spent on running welfare projects for poor and for carrying out infrastructure projects," the chief minister said.

"People of the state know that we are spending the revenue for the poor and for the development of the state. So, when the Opposition tried to make it an issue by calling a bandh, it didn't work," Das said soon after flagging off a fleet of electric cars from Project Building here on Wednesday.

But party insiders felt Das should have looked into the issue since the party president had made the request.

"You can't go and convince the common people that price rise is due to fluctuations in the international market. They simply want fuel prices to be reduced. Even a token relaxation can make people believe that the government listens to them," a party leader said.

Earlier in the day, Gilua had requested Das to explore the possibility of reducing VAT on fuel to give immediate relief to consumers.

Gilua made the request to Das during a meeting at Project Building to discuss BJP's organisational matters ahead of Friday's office bearers' meet and Saturday's working committee meeting.

"Prices of petroleum products depend on various market-related factors. Even when the United Progressive Front (UPA) government lost the elections in 2014, the price of petrol was Rs 80 per litre. Now, the central government is mulling to include petroleum products under GST which will drastically reduce its prices. But as far as VAT is concerned, I will speak to the chief minister," said Gilua while addressing a news meet at the party headquarters in Harmu before the start of the meeting at Project Building.

While making the pitch to reduce VAT, Gilua cited the example of Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee who announced a Re 1 cut in fuel prices.

Jharkhand charges Rs 8.37 per litre or 22 per cent VAT on diesel whichever is higher. Calculation shows that at 22 per cent VAT, the government earns Rs 13.53 per litre from diesel. Similarly on petrol, the government charges a minimum of Rs 15 or 22 per cent whichever is higher. As of now, Rs 15 is higher than imposing 22 per cent VAT. The state also charges 1 per cent cess on fuel prices.

Asked about the future of NDA alliance in Jharkhand in the wake recent political signals by Ajsu Party which was planning to contest all the 81 Assembly seats, Gilua said, "We have informed the central leadership about their intentions. New Delhi will take an appropriate decision in this regard."

The state BJP leadership has planned several activities to improve the party's organisational base. "From Saturday till October 2, the party will undertake a cleanliness drive at the booth level. All party workers and functionaries will have to spend at least one hour a day to promote cleanliness. We have also planned to hold poets' meet in memory of Atal Bihari Vajpayee at each Assembly constituency," he said.

Gilua said Prime Minister Narendra Modi would launch the Centre's flagship scheme, Ayushman Bharat - National Health Protection Mission, from Prabhat Tara grounds in Ranchi on September 23.