Thursday 26 May 2022
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Puri targets opposition-ruled states for steep airfares

Describing the union-state dispute as a result of the opposition's 'hypocrisy', Puri said 'these states create impediments' in efforts to make travel affordable

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Even as the union government and opposition-ruled states spar over high fuel prices since the speech by Prime Minister Narendra Modi where he urged all states to lower their respective taxes on petrol and diesel, Union Minister for Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Hardeep Singh on 28 April targeted states such as Maharashtra, West Bengal and Delhi for steep airfares. In a tweet, the minister for petroleum and natural gas asked: “Ever wondered why air ticket prices haven’t come down?”

“Aviation Turbine Fuel constitutes about 40% of the of airline operations. But West Bengal, Maharashtra & Delhi impose massive 25%+ VAT on ATF while BJP states UP & Nagaland & UT of J&K charge just 1%,” Puri, who earlier had the civil aviation portfolio, said.

Describing the union-state dispute as “hypocrisy” of opposition-ruled states, said Prime Minister Modi ensured affordable air travel to common citizens but added that “these states create impediments”.

“They manufacture protests against ‘oil prices’ but fleece the people to fill their coffers,” said.

On 27 April, raising the issue of high fuel prices in opposition-ruled states that did not pay heed to the union government’s call to reduce the value-added tax (VAT) on petrol and diesel, Prime Minister Modi appealed to these states to cut VAT and work “in the spirit of cooperative federalism” in this “time of global crisis”. By not passing on benefits to the people, these states, he said, were doing them an “injustice” and also harming neighbouring states. However, Maharashtra and West Bengal hit back stating that the opposition states were getting “step-motherly” treatment.

In an apparent bid to explain why the opposition parties cannot reduce taxes on fuels in their states, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said the union government owed Rs 26,500 crore to the state. He accused the union government of step-motherly treatment towards his state and said that his government was not responsible for the rise in prices of petrol and diesel.

West Bengal Chief Minister lashed out at Prime Minister Modi, asking when his government would clear all the pending dues it owed to the state. She said that she would reduce the tax on petroleum products more than the BJP-ruled states.

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