Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday ruled out a cut in excise duty on petrol and diesel to ease rates that have touched all-time highs, saying payments in lieu of past subsidised fuel price pose limitations.
The previous Congress-led UPA government had issued bonds to state-owned oil companies to make up for the difference in the artificially suppressed retail selling price of fuel and the cost. These oil bonds and the interest thereon are being paid now.
The finance minister said the government has paid over Rs 60,000 crore interest in the last 5 years on these oil bonds and there still was an outstanding of Rs 1.30 lakh crore.
“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 said.
Sitharaman also said that she expects inflation to remain in the prescribed range during the current fiscal. The RBI has been mandated to keep inflation at 4%, with tolerance level of 2% on either side.
She expressed confidence that the revenue would be buoyant in the coming months. Both Goods and Services Tax (GST) and direct taxes have improved in the past few months, the minister said.
On the demand pick up, she said there is enough liquidity in the market and credit growth is expected to pick up in the coming festive season.
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