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Kharge slams hike in excise duty on petroleum products

The former Union Minister and Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha M. Mallikarjun Kharge has criticised the National Democratic Alliance government for not transferring the benefit of the steep fall in crude oil prices to consumers and increasing the excise duty on petroleum products.

He told presspersons on Sunday that if the cost of a barrel of crude oil was $130 when the United Progressive Alliance was in power, it had fallen to $ 30 now. “But, the price levels of petrol and diesel remains the same as it was during the tenure of the United Progressive Alliance government as the excise tax on petroleum products has been hiked,” Mr. Kharge said.

He said that the Union government had generated Rs. 7 lakh crore from the increase in the excise tax on petroleum products and even this extra money had not been transferred towards welfare measures.

The allocation for irrigation, health, agriculture, education and midday meal schemes had been reduced. The Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme designed to help complete lingering irrigation projects had been scrapped by the government.

He also took exception to the Railways decision to increase Tatkal charges, reduce the refunds after cancellation of tickets and a few cases of denial of cancellation benefits. “When the cost of the diesel and steel, which are the major raw materials for the Railways to operate, increasing the tariff on tatkal and withdrawing the cancellation benefits was uncalled for.”

Mr. Kharge expressed dissatisfaction over the outcome of the Paris agreement on climate change and said that this was loaded in favour of developed countries and would squeeze the export avenues of developing and underdeveloped countries. The government’s reply on the outcome of the World Trade Organisation’s ministerial conference in Nairobi in Kenya too was not satisfactory.

He accused the Union government not releasing the drought relief fund of Rs. 1,540 crore sanctioned to Karnataka. Mr. Kharge alleged that the government had withheld releasing of funds to Karnataka as it was awaiting reports on crop loss from BJP-ruled States.


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