Srinagar: The Centre is ready for bringing petrol and diesel under the GST regime but it is unlikely that the states will agree to such a move, Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Monday. “For bringing the petrol and diesel under the GST, the states have to agree. If the states make the move, we are ready. We have been ready all along. That’s my understanding. It is another issue how to implement it. That question should be addressed to the finance minister,” Puri told reporters here.
The minister, however, pointed out that it is unlikely that the states will agree to such a move as liquor and energy are revenue generating items for them.
“It is not difficult to understand, they (states) get revenue out of this. One who is getting revenue, why would he leave it? Liquor and energy are two things that generate revenue. It is only the Central government which is worried about inflation and other things,” he added.
The Union minister said the Kerala High Court had suggested that the issue be placed before the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council for discussion at its last meeting in Lucknow.
“The finance minister of that state did not agree. As far as GST is concerned, your wishes and my wishes apart, we are in a cooperative federal system,” he said.
Asked if the people can expect some respite in terms of fuel prices, the minister said India has seen one of the lowest increases in these prices in the past one year.
“I am surprised by your question. In lighter vein, people are asking me when the prices will rise again. In North America, the fuel prices went up by 43 per cent in one year but in India it went up by only two per cent.
“If there is a bright spot anywhere in the world, it’s India. It’s not me saying it, it is Morgan Stanley. It’s the managing director of IMF saying this,” Puri said.
The minister said India has been able to insulate itself from the rising fuel prices by taking a number of steps, including reducing the excise duty by the Centre .
“There are some countries in our neighbourhood which have fuel shortages, and prices are exorbitant. But we did not have shortages even in the remote areas of the country. It has been a very strong navigation at the level of the Centre and the states. What will happen in future it is difficult to say.
“During Covid in March 2020, the price of an oil barrel had come down to USD 19. 56 which is now USD 96. I don’t answer hypothetical questions but the efforts of the Central government will be that prices remain stable,” he said.