Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala's Leader of Opposition VD Satheesan demanded the state government to reduce the state-levied tax on fuel after the centre cut the excise duty on petrol and diesel by Rs 5 and Rs 10.
"This is clearly tax terrorism. The state government has earned additional revenue by way of the frequent increases in fuel prices by the Centre. This additional revenue must be allotted as fuel subsidies," the Opposition Leader.
Subsidies should be given to KSRTC passengers, fishermen, auto and taxi drivers, he added. Satheesan also clarified that the UDF was not demanding a complete withdrawal of the VAT levied by the state.
"The Opposition has no intention to increase the financial burden of the state. We are merely demanding a subsidy from the additional revenue earned by the state," he said.
He also informed that the Congress will continue its protests until the government decides to lower the fuel prices.
The Kerala Finance Minister K N Balagopal had said the Centre's decision to cut excise duty on petrol and diesel by a "small margin" of Rs 5 and Rs 10 respectively was "a temporary measure to save face" and "throw dust in the eyes of the people."
The Kerala Assembly on Tuesday had witnessed a war of words between the CPI(M)-led ruling front and the Congress-headed opposition over frequent fuel price hike in the country and the latter walked out of the House terming it as "state-sponsored tax terrorism."
Satheesan used the occasion to counter the CPM's oft-repeated argument that it was the UPA government's deregulation of petrol prices in the country that had led to the current crisis.
Satheesan argued that deregulation, as envisaged by the UPA government, would have turned out to be beneficial for the country.
He said in 2010 when petrol prices were first deregulated, the price of crude oil was at a record high of 145 dollars a barrel. But then, the price of petrol was Rs 50.6 a litre. Now, when the crude oil price is 82 dollars a barrel, petrol costs Rs 112 a litre.
"If the BJP government had stuck to the UPA model of reducing prices when crude oil costs fall, petrol prices in the country would have hovered around Rs 30 a litre," Satheesan said. "When crude prices fell, this government instead of passing on the benefits, kept on imposing higher cesses and additional excise duties on fuel," he said.