Need alternatives to check fuel price: CMs Fadnavis, Kumaraswamy and Amarinder

Three chief ministers from opposite sides of the political divide on Saturday sought solutions to check rising fuel prices other than measures like petroleum products within the Goods and Services Tax (GST) ambit.
Amarinder Singh, chief minister of Punjab, H D Kumaraswamy, chief minister of Karnataka and Devendra Fadnavis, chief minister of Maharashtra, during the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit at Taj Palace in New Delhi on Saturday.(Burhaan Kinu/HT PHOTO)
Amarinder Singh, chief minister of Punjab, H D Kumaraswamy, chief minister of Karnataka and Devendra Fadnavis, chief minister of Maharashtra, during the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit at Taj Palace in New Delhi on Saturday.(Burhaan Kinu/HT PHOTO)
Updated on Oct 07, 2018 12:57 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByHT Correspondent

Three chief ministers from opposite sides of the political divide on Saturday sought solutions to check rising fuel prices other than measures like petroleum products within the Goods and Services Tax (GST) ambit.

Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh echoed his Maharashtra counterpart, Devendra Fadnavis, in calling for the use of renewable fuels to deal with the problem. H D Kumaraswamy, the Karnataka chief minister, said bringing petroleum products under GST purview, which will prevent states from imposing value-added taxes on them, was not the solution.

“We have to think about alternatives,’’ said Fadnavis at the 16th Hindustan Leadership Summit here on Saturday. “How long can we continue to use this (high level of) import?’’ he asked in reference to India’s need for importing 80% of its fuel needs.

He added cutting down oil imports was the only way of controlling fuel prices. “Oil import can be cut down by 35% by using ethanol. We have an ethanol policy and I think we need to invest more on ethanol,” said Fadnavis. Singh seconded him. “Ethanol is the answer,” he said, referring to the renewable fuel made from corn and other plant materials.

Petrol and diesel prices increased by Rs 7.2 and Rs 7 per litre in September and triggered fresh demands for bringing petroleum goods under the GST preview. The prices are unlikely to go down amid rising cost of crude oil and falling rupee value. The rising prices have given the Opposition parties an opportunity to target the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led central government ahead of state elections in November and December.

Singh spoke about the high rate of drug use in Punjab. He accused Pakistan of smuggling narcotics into states like Punjab, Gujarat and Rajasthan to demolish India’s youth power. Singh insisted it was being done to ensure there were not enough healthy Indians for recruitment into the army from these states. He credited his government’s crackdown for an increase in drug prices. They have spiralled, signalling dwindling supply, said Singh.

Fadnavis complained about the “larger conspiracy” for violence in Maharashtra’s Bhima Koregaon in January and said it was aimed at pitting two communities, Marathas and Dalits, against each other. “It (the conspiracy) was aimed to start a civil war,” he said.

Singh and Kumaraswamy, the two non-BJP chief ministers among the three, maintained they had no problems working with the Centre. Singh complained he was unable to make key appointments like that of the state police chief. Fadnavis, who heads the BJP-led government in Maharashtra, sympathized with him. He said such rights should not be taken away from the states. “I feel we should have full freedom to appoint these people,” Fadnavis said with reference to the Supreme Court’s July 3 directions that gave powers to the Union Public Service Commission to shortlist three candidates out of six for a state to choose its police chief from.

The non-BJP chief ministers complained about the constraints the states face in imposing taxes and lack of funds.

Fadnavis referred to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s monthly Pragati meetings with officials from the states and said they had accelerated the decision-making process and clearance for projects.

“In my case, as many as 10 projects stuck for many years got permission in just eight days. The clearance process is more structured now.”

Kumaraswamy said his Janata-Dal (Secular)-Congress government will complete its full five-year term. He dismissed speculation about tensions between his party and the Congress. He clarified his earlier statement that he was “swallowing poison” by heading the coalition government. “My Congress friends are not giving me poison. I get full cooperation from Congress president Rahul Gandhi.”

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Sunday, November 28, 2021