NEW DELHI – Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, on Saturday, announced a slew of measures to curb inflation, citing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s commitment to help the poor and common man.
The measures included a ₹8 reduction in central excise duty per litre of petrol and a ₹6 cut in the duty on diesel.
This will reduce the price of petrol by ₹8 per litre and diesel by ₹7 per litre, Ms. Sitharaman said, and cost the government about ₹1 lakh crore a year in terms of revenue foregone.
She exhorted all States, especially those that had not cut State levies when central taxes on fuel products were cut the last time in November 2021, to implement a similar cut and give relief to the common man.
“The PM has specifically asked all arms of the government to work with sensitivity and give relief to the common man,” Ms. Sitharaman said in a series of tweets.
A subsidy of ₹200 per gas cylinder for up to 12 cylinders a year, will be granted to over 9 crore beneficiaries of the PM Ujwala Yojana. “This will help our mothers and sisters and have a revenue implication of around ₹6,100 crore a year,” she said.
To rein in steel prices, the government is reducing the import duty on some raw materials and levying an export duty on some steel products. Measures are also being taken to improve Cement supplies and spruce up logistics to reduce cement costs. The notifications for all these measures, will be issued by the Centre within the next hour, the Finance Minister said.
These series of measures assume significance in the light of retail inflation spiralling to 7.8% in April, the highest since the NDA government assumed office in May 2014, and wholesale inflation hitting a multi-decade high of 15.1%
“Our government, since when PM Narendra Modi took office, is devoted to the welfare of the poor. We’ve taken a number of steps to help the poor and the middle class. As a result, the average inflation during our tenure has remained lower than during previous governments,” the minister said.
“Today, the world is passing through difficult times. Even as the world is recovering from Covid-19 pandemic, the Ukraine conflict has brought in supply chain problems and shortages of various goods. This is resulting in inflation & economic distress in a lot of countries,” she said, setting the context for the current inflationary pressures.
“Despite the challenging international situation, we’ve ensured that there are no shortages/scarcity of essential goods. Even a few developed countries couldn’t escape some shortages/disruptions. We are committed to ensure that prices of essential items are kept under control,” Ms. Sitharaman asserted.