CPM to protest hike in petroleum products

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Shimla, Jun 4 (UNI) The Himachal Pradesh unit of CPM today decided to oppose the UPA Government's decision to hike prices of petroleum products in the country, saying it would hold strikes and demonstrations in protest against this decision.

The hike of Rs 50 per cylinder, Rs five per litre for petrol and Rs three per litre for diesel would affect the common man the most who was already suffering due to eight per cent inflation, which is likely to cross the 12 per cent mark after the hike, party's state secretary Rakesh Singha said in a release here.

He said the Congress had forgotten the common man while deciding to hike the prices of petroleum products.

This hike will affect 77 per cent of the population of the country whose monthly income was less than Rs 600, he said.

Mr Singha said in case of Himachal Pradesh the impact would be more devastating as 98 per cent of the goods were transported by road using petrol and diesel.

The rise in petroleum products would also adversely affect the state's farmers whose costs of transporting their agricultural produce would rise further, he added.

He said instead of hiking the prices, the government should have reduced excise and import duties on petrol and diesel. ''A mere five per cent cut in import duty is inadequate.'' ''While the burden of the rise in the prices of petroleum products have been passed on to the common man, the oil and gas extracting companies and refineries are being allowed to have huge profits,'' the CPM leader said.

He also urged the state government to reduce its share of sales tax on these two products as it was levying 25 per cent sales tax on petrol and 14 per cent on diesel.

This was about Rs 12.65 on petrol and Rs 4.57 on diesel, he added.

Mr Singha said unless the Central government rolled back the hike, the party would hold demonstrations and protests across the country from tomorrow up to June 11.

UNI AS PS SP UCS2128

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