Kerala strike against rising fuel prices hits normal life
- The state government earlier ruled out a cut in state taxes to bring down fuel prices citing reduction in revenue.
A strike called by various trade unions to protest the recurring fuel price hike affected normal life in poll-bound Kerala on Tuesday with public transport remaining off the roads and most of the shops remaining shut. Though private vehicles were allowed to ply, many kept off the roads; and in some areas a virtual shutdown was witnessed. Except the Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) all trade unions were supporting the dawn to dusk strike.
In view of the strike, various examinations scheduled for the day were postponed. The government and private buses, taxis, autos and trucks suspended their services and shops that opened, later pulled down their shutters. In a joint statement, protesting trade unions said rising fuel prices were making operation of goods and passenger vehicles costlier and many employees were rendered jobless.
Continuously rising fuel prices have become a major political issue with the opposition accusing the BJP led Central government of being insensitive to common man’s woes by refusing to slash high central taxes levied on Petrol and Diesel, however, the Centre has passed the buck to the states, asking them to cut down high state taxes levied on fuel to bring down the price. Petrol and Diesel prices have been rising continuously due to improved demand of crude oil in the international market, renewed hope due to launch of Coronavirus vaccines and low production. While prices of fuel in India have been deregulated subjecting them to near-daily fluctuations in the international market, more than half of its price in the country is composed of taxes levied by the Centre and the states. The Central government has accepted that the rising prices are a vexatious issue, however, it has also indicated that a reduction in Central taxes could negatively impact the revenue targets.
Earlier, the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) requested the state government for a cut in state taxes to bring down fuel prices to ease the burden on the common man but the state finance minister, Thomas Iassac, ruled it out saying a reduction in state-levied taxes on fuel will cripple revenue flow to the state exchequer.