NEW DELHI: The Congress on Monday accused Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman of “falsely” citing the oil bonds issued by the previous UPA government as the reason for not reducing fuel prices.
The finance minister ruled out a cut in the excise duty on petrol and diesel for now, saying the government has to pay for the oil bonds issued by the UPA in the past.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said oil bonds of Rs 1.3 lakh crore are not even due for payment so far.
“Don’t lie. Oil Bonds of Rs 1.3 lakh crore are not even due for payment so far,” he said on Twitter.
“Till April 2021, payment made on Oil Bonds is Rs 3,500 crore only, yet you falsely hold UPA responsible,” Surjewala said.
“Smt Nirmala Sitharaman, Please stop falsehood or dare to contradict. BJP raised central taxes on petrol and diesel by Rs 23.87 and Rs 28.37 per litre in seven years.Modi Government collected additional Rs 17.29 lakh crore,” he said.
He also alleged that the government has “extorted” Rs 22,33,868 crore by levying excise on petrol-diesel in the last seven years.
The Congress leader said that in 2020-21 alone, “Modi Tax” on petrol-diesel is Rs 4,53,812 crore.
He also listed other taxes imposed and total revenue collection from the petroleum sector to support his claim.
His remarks came after Sitharaman said if she did not have the burden to service the oil bonds, she would have been in a position to reduce excise duty on fuel “A significant amount is going for interest payment and principal repayment.
What unfair burden on me,” she said, adding, “previous government has made our job difficult by issuing oil bonds.
Even if I want to do something I am paying through my nose for the oil bond”.
Sitharaman said the interest on oil bonds paid in the last seven years totalled Rs 70,195.72 crore.
Of the Rs 1.34 lakh crore of oil bonds, only Rs 3,500 crore of principal has been paid and the remaining Rs 1.3 lakh crore is due for repayment between this fiscal and 2025-26, she said.
Petrol and diesel as well as cooking gas and kerosene were sold at subsidised rates under 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, the then government issued oil bonds totalling Rs 1.34 lakh crore to the state-fuel retailers.