Kerala Kaumudi Online
Sunday, 11 April 2021 2.46 AM IST

Fuel Price: People’s will must be honoured


All non-BMS unions in the Kerala went on a 12-hour strike on Tuesday to protest against the continuous rise in fuel prices. But despite the impact of the Rs 225 hike on LPG five times over a period of three months, the housewives' protest have been merely within the four walls of their kitchen.
They face each price increase with utmost resentment. When the price of onion, one of the daily necessities, went up to Rs 100 in Delhi years ago, housewives reacted by defeating the BJP government in Delhi. Many will now forget this kitchen riot that took place two decades ago. But the fact is that the BJP has not been able to rule Delhi since then.

Billions of ordinary families across the country were shocked to see the price of cooking gas for domestic and commercial use rising on Monday. In the absence of external pressures, what is the rationale behind such an increase in LPG prices. This has been baffling housewives. Cooking gas is also becoming dearer as petrol and diesel prices continue to rise, thus people are being squeezed by the government for money. In February, it raised Rs 100 three times. Following this, the price of a cylinder had crossed Rs 800. Then, on March 1, it was again increased by Rs.

Changing governments have constantly increased fuel prices, which doesn’t go down well with the people. Fuel prices fall within the ambit of ordinary tax laws. Fuel is not included in the much touted GST. The reason is clear, if GST is applied, the tax will have to be reduced to 28 per cent. Now the fuel tax is even higher on various items. States are also strongly opposed to bringing fuel under the new law. The reason is that the current income will be hit. State governments are also harassing the people by levying excessive taxes. States still blame the Center for the fuel price hike. Both the Center and the states have taken a anti-people approach to the issue. The reality is that governments that shed crocodile tears for the common man have no qualms to see their plight. It is a matter of concern that even those who rule the country do not have the common sense to understand that the increase in cooking gas prices is not like the increase in petrol and diesel prices. Does this mean that they value the will of the people so much? Such an attitude stems from the presumption that the common people will silently tolerate anything that is imposed on them. Of course, when the opportunity arises, people it is good to remember that people will pay for it.

The price hike is not just for domestic LPG. Prices have also gone up for all types of commercial cylinders, including tea shops. With the increase of Rs 96 last day, it went above Rs 1600. Last month, the price was hiked by Rs 191 per cylinder.

There are millions of people who depend on hotels and other sources of food. There are people who make a living by running a small tea shop. There are many poor families who make and sell food products. They use commercial LPG cylinders. For all of them, the current price of cooking gas is unbearable. They have no choice but to increase the price of food proportionately. That, in turn, can lead to consumer resentment. Trade will also decline.

The only solution to the current looting is to bring various fuels under GST. There were indications recently that the Union Finance Ministry was considering it. But Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said there was no possibility of a favourable decision in the GST Council as the states were opposed to it. Both the Centre and the states have a responsibility to honour the will of the people. The popular demand is to reduce fuel prices from the current level. It should be remembered that respecting the will of the people is the basis for the survival and popularity of any government.

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