Patel lashes out at finance and petroleum ministries

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New Delhi, Sep 29 (UNI) Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel today lashed out at the finance and petroleum ministries for not bailing out the aviation industry reeling under high fuel prices and sales taxes on ATF.

''The aviation sector is facing the problem of high ATF prices and sales taxes on jet fuel, but the other departments of the Government do not understand this,'' Mr Patel told reporters after briefing about India's first civil aviation show to be held in Hyderbad on October 15-18.

''Some people in the Government do not understand that the Civil Aviation industry is also an important part of the transport sector,'' he said.

Though the ATF prices have been reduced by 16 per cent recently, they still form a large part of the air fares.

On the other hand, the sales tax on jet fuel levied by the State Governments vary from 4 per cent to as high as 30 per cent.

The aviation industry wants the ATF to be brought down further and sales tax imposed at a standard 4 per cent to help the airlines come out of losses.

Mr Patel is hopeful that falling international crude oil prices will have a positive impact on the aviation industry.

''The fuel prices have eased off compared to what they were in the past three months.... I am hopeful that they will come down further in the next three months and will have a positive impact on the aviation sector,'' he said.

''Though what is happening in the aviation industry is worrisome, there is reason for optimism,'' he added.

He said the committee set up by the Prime Minister to look into the problems of the aviation sector had agreed on the need to have some corrective measures in regard to overall taxation and pricing policy.

To a question, he said the new Kolkata Airport would be inaugurated on November 2.

UNI YJ MIR AS1822

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