After the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in its review meeting urged Maharashtra and other non-BJP ruled states to reduce VAT on petrol and diesel, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray gave a befitting reply to the Centre.
The Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacted with the Chief Ministers to review the COVID-19 situation here today, April 27.
However, Thackeray hinted that state government won’t cut VAT on auto fuel but said it has already reduced it on natural gas. To provide relief to the citizens of the state, the state government has already given tax relief in respect of natural gas, he added.
In a veiled attack at PM Modi, Thackeray said that he has accused the state government of pushing up petrol and diesel prices.
He further clarified that Centre’s share is INR 24.38 per litre and state’s is INR 22.37 in diesel sold in Mumbai.
Whereas, in petrol Centre’s share is INR 31.58 per litre and state’s is INR 32.55 per litre.
Maharashtra gets 5.5 per cent of central tax. Maharashtra’s share in total direct tax is 38.3 per cent. Maharashtra collects the highest GST of 15 per cent in the country. Combining both direct taxes and GST, Maharashtra is the number one state in the country. Despite this, the state still owes about INR 26,500 crore in GST arrears, Thackeray exclaimed.
During the COVID-19 review meet, the Prime Minister said that in order to reduce the load of petrol and diesel prices central government has reduced the excise duty and had requested the states also to reduce taxes. Some states reduced taxes but some states did not pass on the benefits to the people, leading higher cost of petrol and diesel in these states. This is not only injustice towards the people of the state but harms the neighbouring states also. He said that states like Karnataka and Gujarat undertook the tax reduction for the welfare of the people despite revenue loss while their neighbouring states earned revenue by not reducing tax.
Similarly, the Prime Minister said that last November a request was made to reduce VAT but many states like Maharashtra, West Bengal, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Jharkhand did not do so for some reason. The Prime Minister said 42 per cent of the revenue at Centre goes to State governments. “I urge all the states to work as a team in this time of global crisis following the spirit of cooperative federalism,” Modi requested.
Union Home Minister spoke about the recent increase in coronavirus cases in some states, and about the need to follow test, track, treat, vaccination and ensure COVID-appropriate behaviour.
Union Health Secretary gave a presentation in which he discussed the rise of cases across several countries in the world, while also highlighting the rise of cases in some states in India. He spoke about the need for states to regularly monitor and report data, maintain effective surveillance, upgrade infrastructure and utilise funds given by the Centre.
The Prime Minister noted the collective efforts of centre and state in the fight against Corona. He put on record his appreciation for the Chief Ministers, officers and all Corona Warrior for their efforts. He said that this is clear that Corona challenge is not fully over. Omicron and its subvariants can create problem as evident by the case of many countries of Europe. The subvariants are causing many surges in many countries. He said India has been able to deal with the situation better than many countries. Still, in last two weeks, increasing cases in some of the states show that we need to stay alert, he said.
The Prime Minister said that the Omicron wave was handled with determination and without panic and in the last two years, all aspects of Corona fight whether, health infrastructure, oxygen supply or vaccination, have been strengthened. In the third wave, none of the state saw situation going out of control. This, the Prime Minister said, should be seen in the context of the massive vaccination drive. He said vaccine reached each and every person and it is a matter of pride that 96 per cent adult population is vaccinated with at least one dose and about 84 per cent people above 15 years of age have received both the doses. Vaccine, as per experts is the biggest safeguard against corona, he added.
PM mentioned that schools have opened after long time and some parents are worried by the increased number of cases in some places. He expressed satisfaction that more and more children are getting the vaccine. He said that in March, campaign to vaccinate 12-14 years of age was started and only yesterday, permission has been granted for Covaxine vaccine for 6-12 year old children. “Our priority is to vaccinate all eligible children at the earliest. For this, as before, special campaigns will also be needed in schools. Teachers and parents should be aware about this”, said the Prime Minister. Precautionary dose is available for all adults in the country to strengthen the vaccine protective shield. Teachers, parents, and other eligible people can take precautionary dose, he added.
The Prime Minister said that during the third wave, India witnessed up to 3 lakh cases per day and all states handled the situation and also allowed social and economic activity to continue. This balance should inform our strategy in future also, he said. The Prime Minister informed that the situation is being constantly monitored by the scientists and experts and we have to work pro-actively on their suggestions. “Preventing infections at the very beginning was our priority and should remain so even now. We have to implement our strategy of test, track and treat with same efficacy,” he said.
The Prime Minister emphasized cent percent testing of serious influenza cases and genome sequencing of the positive cases, COVID-appropriate behaviour in the public places and avoiding panic. He also emphasized continued upgradation of health infrastructure and medical manpower.