Srinagar: The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry has expressed serious concern at the continuous rise in the prices of petrol and diesel and called for an immediate cut in the excise duty and state levies.
Javed Ahmad Tenga, President KCC&I stated that the prices of petrol and diesel in India were the highest amongst all the south Asian countries and this was only due to taxes and levies accounting for half of the rate. The Government had hiked the excise duty nine times but reduced it only once.
He stated that even after collecting an whopping amount of Rs 2 lacs 42 thousand crores in excise duties for the year 2016-17, the Government has failed to make necessary reductions in the taxes. This has resulted in loading of an unwarranted burden on the common man and the consequent increase in prices of all essentials. The Government after imposing the highest tax rates on petroleum products quietly withdrew and introduced the daily price revision system which gives autonomy to oil PSU’s to revise rates dailys since June, 2017. The PSU’s have been steadily increasing the rates by 10 paisa to 30 paisa which more or less goes unnoticed. The end result is the highest petrol and diesel prices since years. The lesson drawn is when international crude prices decrease; the Government earns lacs of crores: when the prices increase – the common man is made to pay.
According to press reports even though the Oil Ministry had sought a reduction in excise duty on petrol and diesel, the Union Finance Minister has chosen to give no concessions. The disruption of economic activity because of demonetization and GST is being compensated by the high excise duties.
In addition, the State Government has also not taken any step to reduce the burden on account of state levies on petrol and diesel.
Javed Ahmad Tenga appealed to the State Government that the economy of Jammu and Kashmir being in a critical condition it was time to revisit the State levies on petrol/diesel and also urgently take up the reduction in excise duty on petrol and diesel with the Union Government. Both the State and Union Government seem unwilling to give any concession on this account at the cost of the public.