Has the Punjab government been ignoring the advisory of the Union petroleum ministry on keeping VAT on petrol, diesel and gas within permissible limits, so as not to burden consumers?
This seems to be true as indicated by Union petroleum minister Dharmendra Pardhan who made a brief halt here on Tuesday en route to Turkmenistan, where he is scheduled to hold discussions on the proposed gas pipeline from that country to India via Afghanistan and Pakistan.
"From time to time we ask the state governments to keep the state tax (VAT or GST) within permissible limits. The idea is to ensure that a hike in diesel, petrol or gas prices will not put too much burden on consumers. If state tax is kept low, consumers do get some relief despite the hike from our side," stated Pardhan while talking to the mediapersons at the Sri Guru Ram Das Jee International Airport here.
The Punjab government had increased the VAT on diesel by 1.5% on Saturday, taking it to 11.25% plus 10% surcharge. The diesel price in the state is now `53.14 per litre. The state government had earlier raised the VAT on diesel by 1% in the first week of October.
On the possibility of further lowering the prices of petrol or diesel in the near future, the minister said that it will all depend on the global prices of crude oil.
On his visit to Turkmenistan, Pardhan said that the main purpose of this was to give the final touches to the pipeline that is proposed to carry natural gas from the gas fields of Turkmenistan to India through Afghanistan and Pakistan. He pointed out that this project had been pending for a long time.
"I am going there for the final phase of discussions as this is a very important project from the Indian view point," he added.
Referring to some recent surveys, the minister said that the rating of India in terms of foreign investments had gone up under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The oil sector too was likely to benefit in this changing scenario, he added.
During his brief halt, the minister met a number of senior BJP leaders, including state party president Kamal Sharma, national secretary Tarun Chugh, chief parliamentary secretary Navjot Kaur Sidhu. He also held a meeting with officials of the state-owned petroleum companies.