Fin min passes fuel price ball to GST Council

Fin min passes fuel price ball to GST Council

HUBANESWAR: Amid a growing demand to bring petrol and diesel prices under the GST net, state finance minister Shashi Bhusan Behera on Wednesday said the GST Council is yet to initiate any discussion on the issue.

The GST Council, comprising the finance ministers of all states and Union finance minister Arun Jaitley as its chairman, is the body that will decide if petrol and diesel would be included within GST. “When the GST Council brings up the issue for discussion, the state government will take a decision,” Behera said in reply to an adjournment debate on fuel price hike in the state assembly.

The finance minister admitted that the price of petrol and diesel would come down if the products were brought under GST. “Opposition parties which want the inclusion of petrol and diesel under GST should advise the Centre on the issue,” he said.

As the opposition parties criticized the state government for levying a high tax which resulted in an increase in prices, the finance minister said Odisha collected only 26 per cent VAT on petrol and diesel while BJP-ruled states such as Maharashtra and Rajasthan levied higher VAT.

Giving a comparative picture, Behera said fuel prices in Odisha were less as compared to other states. While the cost of a litre of petrol in Bhubaneswar was Rs 73.34 on April 23, it was Rs 82.35 in Mumbai, Rs 80.05 in Bhopal, Rs 80 in Patna, Rs 78.90 in Hyderabad, Rs 77.29 in Chennai and Rs 77.20 in Kolkata. Similarly, diesel prices in Bhubaneswar were Rs 70.55/litre on April 23 while it was Rs 71.44/litre in Hyderabad, Rs 70.01/litre in Mumbai, Rs 70.39/litre in Patna and Rs 71 in Raipur, he said.

The finance minister also criticized the Centre for increasing excise duty and other additional taxes on petrol and diesel by nine times since April 2014 despite a fall in the prices of crude oil in the international market. During the debate, leader of opposition Narasingha Mishra slammed both the Centre and the state for equivocating on the issue. He ridiculed petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan for urging states to include petrol and diesel under GST. “You (the Centre) said petroleum products cannot be included in GST. Now, you are asking states to bring them under GST. This is ridiculous,” the Congress veteran said.

BJP leader Pradeep Purohit said the Centre had reduced Rs 2 per litre as central excise while other BJP states had cut VAT on petrol and diesel.

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