In a resolution, the 23rd Party Congress of CPI-M strongly protested against the relentless increase in the prices of petrol and diesel by the oil companies in connivance with the BJP Government. The retail prices of petrol and diesel have been increasing almost daily since March 22. Escalation of petroleum prices is fueling inflation. It implies large-scale transfer of resources from the working people to the ruling classes and the Government of India.
The Union Governments tax collection from the oil sector increased from Rs 0.74 lakh crores in 2014-15, the first year of the BJP-led Government to around Rs 3.5 lakh crores in 2021-22. The share of petroleum taxes in the revenue of the Union Government has increased from 5.4 per cent to 12.2 per cent.
The deregulation of petroleum prices and undermining of the oil pool account system has, in effect, given a free hand to oil companies to set retail prices. The real motive behind the deregulation was to give advantages to new private entrants to the retail sector such as Reliance Petroleum who could not be subsidised from the oil pool account.
BJP government has been manipulating the central taxes on petroleum products in order to deny the people any benefits to be had from the decline in the market prices of crude oil. After the Modi government came to power, the central taxes on petrol and diesel were increased 3.5 and 9 times respectively. The BJP has been arguing that State Governments should soften the burden on the people by reducing State taxes. It was not State Governments but the Union Government that increased taxes when crude oil prices fell.
To avoid sharing the additional revenue mobilised with State Governments, the Union Government has been relying on taxes that are
outside the scope of the divisible pool. In the 2018-19 Budget, while the excise duty on petroleum products was reduced by Rs 9 per litre, road cess, which is not shareable with the States, was increased by an equivalent amount. In November 2021 , when forced to reduce taxes, the BJP Government reduced the excise duty , which would have had to be shared with States. Actions by State Governments have not contributed in any way to the present petroleum price spiral.
The Congress demands the immediate withdrawal of additional taxes. It demands that the Government increase taxes on the rich, impose controls on and reduce the retail prices of petrol products, and stop the privatization of public sector undertakings in the petroleum sector.
This Congress urges the people of this country groaning under the back breaking impact of unprecedented onslaughts on their livelihood to protest on a massive scale all across the country.