Dhumal averse to lowering VAT on petroleum products

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Shimla, Jul 2 (UNI) Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal today said there was no move to reduce sales tax or VAT on petrol, diesel or cooking gas in the state as the state government was charging lower taxes on the petroleum products as compared to other states.

Talking to media persons here, he said there was no justification in slashing down the taxes on these items by the state when the rising prices were due to heavy central taxes.

"The Congress has no right to speak on this issue since its led UPA Government at the Centre is responsible for the price rise," he said.

Referring to BJP president Rajnath Singh's call to the party ruled states to lower the VAT, he said it was in reference to those states were the taxes above the floor rates.

"In HP, we are charging only 14 per cent VAT on petrol, which is very much less than the floor rate.'' He was, however, non-committal on the possibility of further hike in bus fares in the wake of hike in petrol and diesel.

The Chief Minister said that the Himachal Pradesh Agriculture University at Palampur had received five projects worth Rs 18.18 crore for studies on bio-diversity, bio-pesticide development, specific studies to improve livelihood of marginal farmers in Chamba and on seed development.

The state government has also received intimation from the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister that the central government has sanctioned Rs 135 crore for constructing a road from Bhadarwa in J &K to Chamba in Himachal, he said.

''This will improve road connectivity to Chamba district.'' He said the government was waiting for survey report of five tunnels proposed in the state, following which it would submit another memorandum to the 13th Finance Commission for special funding for construction of tunnels.

The Finance Commission members had moved around in the state and were very much aware of the need of the tunnels in HP, he added.

Mr Dhumal, however, criticised the Centre for extending Jan Shatabadi till Nangal in Punjab, leaving the stretch till Una uncovered.

''It was our demand that Jan Shatabadi should be extended till Una. But the Centre has discriminated against us by extending it up to Nangal only. I will take up this matter with the Centre.'' He condemned the J &K Government's decision to cancel the land al lotted to Amarnath Shrine, saying that it was unfortunate that the people who have been getting subsidy in the name of Haj were opposing subsidy for Amarnath Yatra.

UNI AS PS BK2009

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