In a point-by-point rebuttal to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's remarks that the government has to pay for past oil bonds and that's why it can't cut excise duty on oil, the Congress party has taken a jibe saying "not just economy but even your account is also flawed".
Congress national spokesperson Gurdeep Singh Sappal, in a series of tweets, said the total value of oil bonds in 2014, when PM Modi came to power, was Rs 1,34,423 crore. He said till April 2021, the government had paid oil bonds worth Rs 3,500 crore only. He said at the same time, the government earns Rs 3 lakh crore per annum as excise collection on petrol and diesel.
"Not just economy, even your accounts is flawed Ms FM!" he tweeted. He said the higher excise collection from petroleum products was Rs 3.4 lakh crore in 2020-21. "(It) Is expected to rise beyond 4 lakh crore now," he added.
Talking about the Oil Bonds liabilities of the government this year, he said it needs to pay "Rs 5,000 crore on October 16; Rs 5,000 on November 28; and Rs Rs 9,989.96 crore as interest. That is a total of Rs 19,989.96 crore in 2021-22".
"And tax collection on petro-products is over Rs 30,000 crore per month!" he added.
Sappal said last year, revenue from tax on petroleum products went up by Rs 1.8 lakh crore. During the same period, the corporate tax went down by Rs 1 lakh crore. "Corporate tax fell from 3.34% of the GDP in 2017-18 to 2.32% of the GDP in 2020-21. So now you know who is paying and who is not!" he added.
On the FM's remarks that Rs 70,195.72 crore were paid as interest in five years, Sappal said: "That’s just Rs 14,000 crore a year. Tax being collected from petroleum products is now over Rs 7,000 crore a week! Using big numbers, without proper context, is obviously to alarm and confuse the public," he alleged.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday ruled out a cut in excise duty on petrol and diesel to ease prices, which have touched an all-time high, saying payments in lieu of past subsidised fuel pose limitations.
Petrol and diesel as well as cooking gas and kerosene were sold at subsidised rates during the previous Congress-led UPA government.
Instead of paying for the subsidy to bring parity between the artificially suppressed retail selling price and the cost that had soared because of international rates crossing USD 100 per barrel, the then government issued oil bonds totalling Rs 1.34 lakh crore to the state-fuel retailers.
These oil bonds and the interest thereon are being paid now. "If I did not have the burden to service the oil bonds, I would have been in a position to reduce excise duty on fuel," she told reporters today. "Previous governments have made our job difficult by issuing oil bonds. Even if I want to do something I am paying through my nose for the oil bonds."
Sitharaman, who had raised excise duty on petrol and diesel to record high to shore up revenue collections last year, said the interest on oil bonds paid in the last seven years totalled Rs 70,195.72 crore.
Excise duty on petrol was hiked from Rs 19.98 per litre to Rs 32.9 last year to recoup gain arising from international oil prices plunging to multi-year low as pandemic gulped demand. Excise collection in pre-pandemic 2018-19 was Rs 2.13 lakh crore.
With PTI inputs
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