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sitharaman: War has forced fuel price hikes: Nirmala Sitharaman

NEW DELHI: Amid criticism over hikes in prices of petrol and diesel in recent days, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday argued that it was the war in Ukraine that had forced an increase in pump prices, while maintaining that the government did not burden the people with additional taxes during Covid, when 32 countries across the globe had raised levies.
“People have been asking ‘how can you raise the fuel price?’… It has nothing to do with elections… This war, which is happening in Ukraine, has an impact on all countries, supply chains are disrupted, particularly of crude oil,” Sitharaman said in the Lok Sabha, while responding to the debate on the Finance Bill.
The FM cited former PM Jawaharlal Nehru’s reference to the war in Korea and developments in the US for the price rise in 1951 to counter the opposition attack for the increase in fuel prices over last four days. “Today, if Ukraine is genuinely hitting us and we say that the war is causing a price rise, it is not acceptable… Today, in a globally connected world it will definitely affect.”
With global crude prices touching the highest levels in a decade, oil companies have been left with little choice but to raise prices to stop bleeding.
The Lok Sabha approved the Finance Bill, incorporating the amendments related to taxation of cryptocurrencies, and completing its part of the Budget exercise. Responding to concerns over her tax proposals on virtual digital assets, including cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens, the FM maintained that there were no confusing signals. “There are consultations going on whether we want to regulate it, whether we want to regulate it to some extent or do we ban it. After the consultation, the matter will come out. Till then we are taxing it because there is a lot of reported activity. So, the government has made its position clear that it will tax the money that is generated from it,” she said.
The minister also asserted that the government had taken a conscious decision not to fund the post-pandemic economic recovery through additional taxes. “That is why this year and last year the continuity in not bringing newer taxation is something that I would place on record… OECD reports clearly say that at least 32 countries increased various tax rates during the pandemic. India did not. As a result, this Finance Bill has been received as one of the boring ones, one of the insipid ones, one of them which had nothing great about it. But it is indeed a Budget that did not burden the common public, but yet, put the money where the multiplier would be maximum, where infrastructure creation will happen and on that we came with a big time increase in infrastructure spending.”
The FM also took a dig at Congress party by referring to Indira Gandhi prescribing a marginal rate of taxation of 93.5% on income above Rs 2 lakh. Instead, she said, the Modi government believed in keeping tax rates low and the cut in corporation tax had helped improve collections. “People who make and run businesses are treated with a sense of pride so they can create jobs. We don’t treat them as people from whom we have to suck out everything,” Sitharaman said.




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