Amidst outcry over high taxes on motor fuel, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday said she would be "glad" to discuss the suggestion of bringing petrol and diesel under the ambit of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) at the next meeting of the GST Council. State levies and central excise duty account for more than half of the retail selling prices of petrol and diesel.
For instance, taxes make up for 60% of the present retail price of petrol of Rs 91.17 a litre in Delhi. Excise duty constitutes 36% of the retail price. Over 53% of the retail selling price of Rs 81.47 a litre for diesel in Delhi is made up of taxes. As much as 39% of the retail price comprises central excise.
Replying to the debate on Finance Bill 2021 in the Lok Sabha, Sitharaman said both the Union government as well as state governments levy taxes on petrol and diesel. However, the Union government shares its collection on the fuel with states.
"I would honestly think based on today's discussion, many of the states would be watching this. In the next GST Council (meeting), if that discussion comes up, I'll be glad to have it on the agenda and discuss it. I have no issues. Let the states come and discuss it. The call has to be taken there (at the Council)," the Minister said.
The GST Council, headed by the Union Finance Minister and comprising state finance ministers, is the highest decision making body regarding GST. Earlier in the day, members from the Opposition benches said high prices of diesel, petrol and LPG were hurting the common man across the country and asked the government to reduce their rates.
Petrol and diesel prices are hovering at historic highs following a relentless increase in rates over the past nine months. There have been calls by Opposition parties as well as sections of society to reduce excise duty to ease consumer pain.
Supriya Sule (NCP) said the excise component in the prices of petrol is close to Rs 38 per litre while state value-added tax (VAT) is about Rs 19 per litre in Delhi. The government should consider slashing this high excise duty, she said. She urged the government to bring down prices of petrol, diesel and LPG cylinder.
Ritesh Pandey (BSP) and Nama Nageswara Rao (TRS) too raised the issue of high prices of petrol and diesel.