A survey conducted by community social media platform LocalCircles has revealed that 51 per cent of the respondents are cutting down their expenses or dipping into their savings to cope with increasing petrol and diesel prices. Among them, 21 per cent are even reducing their spending on essentials like tomato, potato, onions, rice, wheat and pulses. Majority of the respondents want COVID related cess on fuel to be withdrawn, and state taxes on petrol and diesel cut. The survey received more than 22,000 responses from citizens located in over 291 districts of the country.
To the question on how people are coping with the rising petrol and diesel prices, 3 per cent said they have some extra savings because of lower discretionary spending in the last 12 months, while 1 per cent had "some reserve funds due to extra earnings in the last 12 months". While 14 per cent of respondent said they are "using savings to pay for it", 16 per cent said they are "cutting discretionary spending". Another 21 per cent said they are "cutting spending on essentials and it is painful".
Asked about the actions central and state governments need to take, 79 per cent of the respondents wanted the state governments to reduce the tax on fuel. Among the respondents, 32 per cent preferred "an absolute value of VAT instead of a percentage of base price", while 47 per cent wanted reduction in VAT rates. Only 8 per cent voted for "nothing, the current VAT model is fine". On the Central government's May 2020 decision to increase excise duty on petrol by Rs 10 per litre and diesel by Rs 13 per litre in the form of excise duty and road infrastructure cess to shore up falling revenues, 59 per cent preferred full reversal of duties. Another 30 wanted atleast 50 per cent of the amount reversed. There were also 11 per cent citizens who said that it "should not be reversed at all".
Of the respondents, 68 per cent were men while 32 per cent respondents were women. While 44 per cent respondents were from tier 1 cities, 29 per cent were from tier 2 cities. The rest were from tier 3, 4 cities and rural districts.
LocalCircles study was meant to understand how people of India are coping with the skyrocketing price rise of petrol and diesel in the last 12 months and what should be done by the government, both centre and state, to provide immediate relief to citizens.