sitharaman: War has forced fuel prices to rise: Nirmala Sitharaman



NEW DELHI: Amid criticism over petrol and diesel price hikes in recent days, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Friday it was the war in Ukraine that forced a rise in prices at the pump , while claiming that the government did not burden the people with additional taxes during Covid, when 32 countries around the world increased levies.
“People are asking ‘how can you raise the price of fuel?’… This has nothing to do with the elections… This war, which is going on in Ukraine, is impacting all countries, the supply chains are disrupted, especially of crude oil,” Sitharaman said in the Lok Sabha, while responding to the debate on the finance bill.
The FM quoted former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s reference to the war in Korea and the developments in the United States for the price hike in 1951 to counter the attack of the opposition for the increase in fuel prices over the past four days. “Today, if Ukraine really hits us and we say war is causing prices to rise, that’s not acceptable…Today, in a globally connected world, that will definitely affect.”
As world crude prices reach their highest levels in a decade, oil companies have no choice but to raise prices to stop the bleeding.
The Lok Sabha approved the finance bill, incorporating the amendments related to the taxation of cryptocurrencies and completing its part of the budget exercise. Responding to concerns over its tax proposals on virtual digital assets, including cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens, the FM argued 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 whether we ban it. After the consultation, the question will come out. Until then, we are taxing it because ‘ there is a lot of reported activity, so the government has made it clear that they will tax the money generated from it,” she said.
The minister also claimed that the government had made a conscious decision not to fund the post-pandemic economic recovery through additional taxes. “That’s why this year and last year, the continuity in not introducing new taxation is something I would like to record… The OECD reports clearly indicate that at least 32 countries have increased various tax rates during the pandemic. India did not. As a result, this finance bill was received as one of the boring, one of the tasteless, one of the of them who had nothing big, but it was a budget that did not weigh on ordinary mortals, but nevertheless, put the money where the multiplier would be maximum, where the infrastructure creation will take place and on that we have come up with a massive increase in infrastructure spending.”
The FM also took a dig at the Congress party by referring to Indira Gandhi prescribing a marginal tax rate of 93.5% on earnings above Rs 2 lakh. Instead, she said, the Modi government believed in keeping tax rates low and reducing corporate tax had helped improve collections. “People who start and run businesses are treated with a sense of pride so that they can create jobs. We don’t treat them like people we have to suck everything from,” Sitharaman said.


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