Odisha Assembly expresses concern over rising fuel prices

The Odisha Assembly on Tuesday expressed concern over the rising fuel price, while the state government said the funds collected through tax is utilised for welfare activities.

Raising the issue of hike in fuel prices through an adjournment motion, the opposition asked the state government to reduce the tax on fuel to reduce the burden on the common man.

The opposition members said that the people of the state are hard hit by the price hikes of essential commodities.

Congress MLA Tara Prasad Bahinipati said the BJP government at the Centre is looting the people as the petrol price has breached Rs 100 mark in Malkangiri district for the first time.

Even during the Covid-19 pandemic, both the Centre and state government increased tax on petroleum products. The government needs to decrease the tax on fuel, said Bahinipati.

Bishnu Charan Sethi, deputy leader of BJP legislature party, said the tax collected on fuel is utilised by the Odisha government for welfare activities in Odisha and across the country.

He demanded that the state government should decrease the tax on fuel.

Participating in the discussion, opposition chief whip Mohan Majhi said like other states, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik should set an example by decreasing the Value Added Tax (VAT) on petroleum products.

However, Finance Minister Niranjan Pujari said the government is levying less tax than the Central government and utilising funds for welfare activities.

Pujari said the Centre is collecting Rs 32.90 paise from fuel while the state government is levying Rs 21.40 paise towards 32 per cent VAT on prevailing price retail of petrol in Bhubaneswar.

The prevailing price of petrol in Bhubaneswar stands Rs 91.66 (as on February 23), while the petrol prices in Bhopal, Mumbai and Kolkata are Rs 98.96, Rs 97.34 and Rs 91.12 respectively.

Similarly, the diesel price in Bhubaneswar is Rs 88.63, while the diesel prices in Bhopal, Mumbai and Chennai are Rs 89.60, 88.44 and 86.31 respectively, said the Minister.

He said the Centre should reduce the agriculture infrastructure development cess and infrastructure cess on the petroleum products.

Earlier, three Congress MLAs reached Odisha Assembly by riding a bicycle as a mark of protest against the rise in the prices of petrol and diesel.

Congress MLAs Taraprasad Bahinipati, Suresh Routray and Adhiraj Panigrahi took out the novel protest by riding cycles to the State Assembly.