The West Bengal Chief Minister, Ms Mamata Banerjee, on Wednesday promised stiff opposition against the Centre for hiking petrol and diesel prices in the State.

Petrol price in the State increased by Rs 2.52 a litre to Rs 76.14, while diesel prices went up by 92 paise to Rs 44.66 a litre .

“Such action are destined to lead to political conflict and we will oppose it tooth and nail,” she told reporters at Writers’ Buildings this evening.

Sources in OMCs, however, blame the West Bengal Government for high incidence of such surcharges. For example, the West Bengal collects additional 20 per cent duty on petrol and diesel over and above the sales tax. Such duties which were so far subsidised by the OMCs are now passed on to the consumer.

To put it in simpler terms, consumers in West Bengal should pay higher price due to higher incidence of such State-specific surcharge collected by the State Government. Eleven States which reduced such State-specific tax element since 2003 are witnessing a drop in price of petroleum products.

State rigid

Ms Banerjee, however, is livid at such “withdrawal of subsidies.” Neither is she ready to reduce the incidence of such State-specific surcharges.

“We do not have any money in our coffers. We cannot pay salaries to our own employees, where will we get the money for the subsidy,” she said.

The decision to “withdraw subsidies” was taken unilaterally and without consulting the allies she said.

(This article was published on July 25, 2012)
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