GUWAHATI, April 22 - Condemning the State government�s decision to increase the Value Added Tax (VAT) on diesel, petrol and other motor spirits, major opposition parties today said that the move will put further burden on the common people who are already facing income losses and inflation of basic commodities on account of the COVID-19 pandemic and the nationwide lockdown.
Opposition parties called upon the State government to roll back the VAT increase.
�Daily wage earners, small traders, self-employed and other poor segments have been the worst sufferers during this period. In such circumstances the decision of the State government is uncalled for and we strongly protest against it. This (hike in VAT) will be a big blow to the poor people,� said former Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, calling upon the government to cancel the notification of the hike.
The AIUDF also castigated the State government on the issue. �It is unfortunate that at a time when global crude oil prices have declined to a 20-year low our State government has increased VAT on petrol and diesel. It will have a chain reaction leading to a jump in the cost of transportation of essential items, which will become even more expensive and beyond the reach of the common people. It comes as a double whammy at a time when masses are already suffering on account of the pandemic and the lockdown. Earnings are down and people are barely managing to survive. And the State government, instead of providing comfort and support to citizens, is taking steps which will make lives of poor and middle classes even more miserable,� said AIUDF president Badruddin Ajmal.
The CPI (M) termed the move �ill conceived�. �No proper thought was put into the matter before taking this decision. Countless families have lost their income in the last few weeks. Economic activities have virtually ceased. Spiralling prices of basic essentials have affected people across Assam, including in Guwahati. Now the increase in prices of petrol and diesel will put further burden on the lower income segments as well as the middle classes of society. Prices of essential items will go up further as transportation costs will escalate,� said Suprakash Talukdar, central committee member of CPI (M).
He said that the Assam government should have adopted the model followed by Kerala. �Instead of hiking VAT on petrol and diesel to boost its revenue, the Assam government should have asked the Centre to allow states to increase borrowings as well as for expanding Central grants. To secure revenue by hurting the common people is not sensible governance or economics,� said Talukdar, calling for immediate roll-back of the VAT increase.
The CPI also demanded that the government roll back the hike in VAT for petroleum products.