‘T.N. should take a cue from Kerala’
Opposition leader M.K. Stalin on Wednesday urged the State government to reduce the sales tax on petrol and diesel for the benefit of the public, who were reeling from spiralling fuel costs.
He said Tamil Nadu should take a cue from the Kerala government, which had reduced the price of petrol and diesel by ₹1 each. “The hike [in fuel prices] will have a direct bearing on the prices of essential commodities,” he said.
Deputy CM O. Panneerselvam, however, said the situation in Kerala was different from the one prevailing in Tamil Nadu, adding, “Anyway, we will discuss the issue with the Chief Minister and take a decision.” Mr. Panneerselvam said the retail prices of petrol and diesel were cheaper in Chennai when compared to Kerala, even after the latter reduced the sales tax on fuel.
The prices of petrol and diesel in Kerala are ₹81.01 and ₹73.76 respectively. But the price of petrol in Chennai is ₹80.84 and diesel, ₹72.76.
“In Tamil Nadu, we have to also take into consideration the revenue deficit, which stood at ₹18,370 crore in 2017-18, and is expected to increase to ₹19,374 crore in 2018-19. The State government is depending on sales tax to implement schemes, and it [sales tax] differs from State to State,” Mr. Panneerselvam said. Mr. Stalin argued that the prices of petrol and diesel remained high even when the price of crude oil in the international market was only $29.80 per barrel. “When the DMK was in power in 2006, Chief Minister Kalaignar (Karunanidhi) reduced the sales tax on diesel by 1.67%. Again, in 2008, he reduced the tax on diesel by 2%. The sales tax on petrol was brought down by 3% in 2011,” he noted.