DELHI: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told reporters today that the government could have easily provided relief from high oil prices if it hadn’t had to shoulder the cost of oil bonds that the previous administration had issued to firms.
Oil bonds, or securities in place of financial subsidies to oil marketing corporations, were issued by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) administration under former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and are now due to be redeemed.
“If I had not incurred the UPA’s oil bonds worth over Rs 1. 4 lakh crore, I would have given relief from petroleum prices,” Ms. Sitharaman said, explaining why she can’t cut excise duty on petrol and diesel for now.
Burden of interest payment
Sources informed NDTV in June that almost Rs 70,000 crore has been spent on interest payments alone during Prime Minister Narendra Modi government’s seven years in office, compared to this year’s budgetary allocation of Rs 35,000 crore for the COVID-19 pandemic.
The UPA government, according to the centre, transformed the under-recoveries of oil corporations into oil bonds thanks to oil subsidies.
“The centre and states need to sit down and find a way forward to resolve high petroleum prices,” Ms. Sitharaman told reporters of NDTV
Congress denies that the centre’s alleged incapacity to provide relief to the people is due to oil bond payments.
Senior Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala took to Twitter to deny the allegations and said, “please stop falsehood or dare to contradict” and listed different points on taxes imposed under the present government.
Randeep Singh Surjewala, a senior Congressman, moved to Twitter to reject the charges, said, “stop falsehood or dare to contradict” and listed many taxes imposed by the current administration.
“BJP raised Central Taxes on Petrol & Diesel by Rs 23.87 and Rs 28.37/litre in 7 yrs… Modi Govt collected additional Rs 17.29 lakh CR… Don’t lie. Oil Bonds of 1.3 lakh CR are not even due for payment so far,” Mr. Surjewala tweeted.
In the last seven years, he claims, PM Modi’s government has extorted Rs 22,33,868 crore by levying duty on petrol and diesel.
PM Modi’s government increased fuel costs by Rs 7 per litre in the six weeks between May and June alone, according to Amitabh Dubey, president of the Professionals’ Congress’ Delhi chapter.
Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal’s criticism
In response to accusations that Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal chastised many large domestic enterprises for supposedly ignoring national interests, Ms. Sitharaman said Mr. Goyal was implying that the sector should also consider and promote small traders.
Mr. Goyal criticized Tata at a Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) event last week, saying that local enterprises should not solely focus on profits or consider circumventing local rules, according to news agency Reuters.