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Oppn urges govt to forgo additional tax on fuel; walks out of Kerala Assembly
Thiruvananthapuram: With the fuel price touching new heights everyday, the UDF led opposition on Wednesday urged the Left government in Kerala to forgo the additional tax revenue generated on its sales, but the latter rejected the demand, saying it would adversely impact the economy of the cash-strapped state.

The previous UDF government, under then Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, had waived the additional tax revenue on petrol sales at least 7 times to give some relief to the common man from the spiralling fuel price, the opposition pointed out in the state Assembly. They charged that both the BJP-NDA government at the Centre and their CPI(M)-led LDF counterpart in the state were using the fuel price hike to loot the people. The Congress-led opposition members also staged a walkout during the zero hour protesting the government''s reluctance to discuss the matter in the House.

Seeking a notice for the adjournment motion, N Shamsudeen (IUML) said both the union and state governments were viewing the frequent hike of fuel price as the best method to fill the exchequer. "The Chandy government had forwent the additional tax revenue seven times to help common people. Why the Pinarayi Vijayan government is not adopting the model? The additional tax should be waived at least in this COVID-19 period," he said. Leader of Opposition, V D Satheesan asked the government to give at least fuel subsidy to the fishing boats and public transport vehicles like KSRTC buses, auto rickshaws and taxis considering the plight of grassroot level people due to the pandemic-induced situation. "The price has increased 21 times in 37 days.

This relentless hike in the fuel price is nothing but tax loot. Tax has increased from 40-50 per cent in the state. If the tax is not reduced, at least some subsidy should be given to needy people," he said. The Congress leader also sought to know what was the issue in bringing petrol and diesel under GST regime. Finance Minister K N Balagopal, however, criticised the opposition for levelling charges against the LDF government and said it was the Centre and not the state government was responsible for the fuel price hike. "The situation is grim due to the frequent hike of fuel price. But, the state is not responsible for it. Compared to many other states, the tax is less in Kerala," he said.

The UDF opposition, which was critical of the state, did not say anything in its notice against the union government, the minister said adding that the Congress was silent on the fuel price hike during the first tenure of the Modi government. At the present circumstance, sales tax collection from petrol and diesel and revenue from liquor were the only source of income for the state government and so it was difficult to do away with it as it would adversely affect the state finance, Balagopal further pointed out. Speaker M B Rajesh refused leave for the motion based on the minister''s reply, prompting the opposition to stage a walkout in the House.

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