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Cong tells states to absorb fuel hike shock
Cut cess, taxes, Cong CMs told; nationwide stir against hike
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 25
A day after the UPA government hiked the LPG and diesel prices, leading to nationwide agitations, the Congress today swung into damage-control mode, asking the party-ruled states to reduce cess and local taxes on petroleum products to offset the impact of the hike.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee dispatched a letter to Chief Ministers to reduce cess on LPG. The Centre also tried to soften the blow by slashing customs duty on crude oil and excise duty on diesel. “As far as the Congress-ruled states are concerned, we are asking them to do as much as they can,” AICC general secretary Janardan Dwivedi said.

Giving example of other countries in the region, he claimed that prices of diesel, LPG and kerosene in the neighbourhood were much higher than in India. “There are times when you are compelled to take hard decisions. There is no doubt that when the prices of diesel go up, everybody feels the pinch. But if you see all the facts you will realise that there was no other option,” he said. The Congress-led UPA government has come under severe criticism from its allies (the Trinamool Congress) and rivals (the BJP and Left parties) for its decision to hike the fuel prices.

The BJP announced that it had started dharnas and rallies throughout the nation and declared that protests would continue until the government orders a rollback.

Attacking the government in the same vein, CPM Politbureau member Sitaram Yechury said the sops announced in terms of reduction in duties were not enough.

The party took out a massive protest march in Kolkata. Former CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said all Left parties would launch a massive agitation across the country from Monday onwards against the hike.

AIADMK supremo and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalitha described the hike as “totally unacceptable.”

BJP spokesman Syed Shahnawaz Husain claimed that the duties and taxes on fuel in BJP-ruled states were already lower than those in the Congress-ruled states.

Hitting out at the Centre, UP Chief Minister Mayawati accused it of being indifferent to the suffering of the common man.

Mamata shows the way, slashes LPG cess by Rs 16

Kolkata: Flaying the hike in diesel and LPG prices, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday reduced the cess on cooking gas by Rs 16 per cylinder to partially offset the  Rs 50 hike announced by the Centre on Friday. The reduction of cess would cause the state exchequer a loss of Rs 75 crore. Announcing the cut, Mamata said: “Keeping in mind the interests of the people, the state government has decided to partially absorb the hike. This will help the people to manage their budget to some extent.” Stating that her party does not support the hike in any way, she said that she had spoken to PM Manmohan Singh and registered her protest. — TNS

Freight rates to go up by 8-9%

Chandigarh/New Delhi: Transporters on Saturday said they will raise freight rates by 8-9 per cent with immediate effect on all routes across India. The impact of increase in freight rates will be visible on goods including perishable commodities like vegetables and industrial items. In New Delhi, truckers threatened to go on strike if the government failed to roll back the increase in the fuel prices. — PTI





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