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Mamata waives local taxes; LPG price hike only Rs. 34 in Bengal

Indrani Dutta



Some relief: Mamata Banerjee

KOLKATA: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday announced that her government would waive the cess on LPG so that the blow on domestic consumers of cooking gas in West Bengal is softened. Following this announcement, household consumers will see their LPG prices increase by only Rs. 34 a cylinder against the Rs. 50 effected by the Centre. “It is a relief of Rs. 16 per cylinder,” she said

She told reporters at the Secretariat that she had already talked to the Prime Minister on the petroleum products' price increase effected since Friday midnight. She said that while the new price structure (after adjusting for the cess relief) would come into force immediately, the notification would be issued on Monday.

“There will be a Rs. 75-crore revenue loss on account of forgoing the cess on LPG but for my government, people are sovereign. Their suffering has to be mitigated,” said the Chief Minister.

She said she had discussed this issue with her Finance Minister Amit Mitra. Mr. Mitra presented a vote-on-account budget in the State Legislative Assembly on Friday saying that a full budget can be presented only after more discussions and after the conclusion of the talks between the Chief Minister and the Union Finance Minister from whom the State Government had sought assistance to tide over its financial stress.

Pointing out that she was pained by the Rs. 50 per cylinder increase in LPG prices, Ms Banerjee said that her government had shown the way although the earlier Left Front government had never initiated such a move.

Ms. Banerjee, whose party is the UPA-II government's second largest ally at the Centre, had said on Friday that people were suffering on account of the repeated increases in fuel prices and she did not support it. “We do not support the price rise. We are with the people,” she told journalists at the State Secretariat soon after the announcement.

A chorus of demands for price rise is already being raised by operators of private bus services which act as the backbone of the city's public transport system, as well as unions of taxi associations, which have said that they could no longer absorb the increase in diesel prices.

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