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Petrol, diesel taxes funding free meals and other schemes, says Hardeep Singh Puri | Economy News

New Delhi: Minister of Petroleum Hardeep Singh Puri defended fuel and diesel tariffs on Friday, claiming that the levies helped support government programmes that provided millions of people with free Covid vaccines, meals, and cooking gas during the pandemic.

This comment comes in the wake of opposition parties’ demands that the government reduce fuel taxes.

The Centre, on the other hand, has justified the taxes by claiming that they are required to pay numerous welfare programmes. Domestic rates, Puri said today, are connected to international oil costs, which have risen for a variety of reasons that must be recognised.

“I think this simplistic political narrative we get in India (that), ‘Prices have gone up why don’t you reduce your taxes’… so every time price goes up due to something else, it says you axe your own feet in the process,” he said.

According to the minister, the country completed one billion vaccinations, fed 90 crore, people, for a year during the pandemic by providing three meals per day, and implemented the Ujjwala scheme, which provided free cooking gas LPG refills to 8 crore poor people. “All this and much more with that Rs 32 a litre excise duty (levied by the Central government),” he said.

The money raised from taxes is used to develop roads, build housing for the underprivileged, and fund other social welfare programmes. “I am not the finance minister therefore it is not an appropriate answer for me to give,” he said on demands for cutting taxes. “That Rs 32 a litre that we collect provides us the ability to provide all these welfare services, including 1 billion vaccines.”

Price hikes have pushed gasoline and diesel prices to all-time highs across the country. Petrol costs more than Rs 100 a litre in almost all major cities, while diesel costs the same in more than a dozen states and union territories (UTs).

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