Union govt policies forced Kerala to impose cess on fuel, says CM Pinarayi, slams protests of Cong

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Pinarayi Vijayan | Screengrab

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday launched a broadside against the Congress-led UDF over the opposition front's protest against the Left government's refusal to rollback the budget proposals to levy cess on fuel and liquor sales, alleging it was siding with the BJP-led Centre's policy of squeezing the southern state financially.

As political opponents intensified their protests against the Left government over the issue, the Chief Minister held a press conference in which he alleged the UDF was keeping mum on the BJP government's revengeful approach towards Kerala.

Justifying the new tax proposals and the social security cess in the budget, he said the government was forced to take such a step for the overall welfare of the people of the state.

"We are forced to adopt such measures as we cannot go forward without that. The budget proposals are not to cause any difficulty for common people but to provide them a better life and facilities," the CM said.

There were other sources for resource mobilisation before but all such means were shut now due to undue interference and restrictions imposed by the Centre, he said.

"There is no way other than touching petrol and liquor," he said and urged the support of everyone cutting across politics for the welfare measures for people and development of the state.

He accused the opposition and a section of the media of unleashing a false propaganda regarding the economic situation of the state and said Kerala is not in debt trap as campaigned by them.

The state's debt-GDP ratio has declined by 2.46 per cent during the four years period from 2020-21 to 2023-24, he explained.

The state's debt, which was 38.51 per cent of GDP during 2020-21, has come down to 37.01 per cent during 2021-22 registering a decrease of 1.5 per cent, Vijayan said.

As per the revised figures for 2022-23, it is 36.38 per cent, he detailed, rubbishing the opposition's "debt trap" campaign.

He also rejected the opposition charges that the state government has failed in the tax collection exercise and said since his government came to power, the annual growth rate of the tax revenue has been more than 20 per cent.

Narrating the circumstances that forced the state government to make a proposal to levy social security cess on fuel, Vijayan claimed it was the deregulation policies adopted by the previous Congress-led UPA government and current BJP-headed dispensation that led to the rise in fuel prices leading to inflation.

"The decision to levy Rs 2 on fuel was taken due to the BJP government's revengeful approach towards Kerala. The central government's approach is to defeat the state by squeezing its economy," the Chief Minister alleged.

Coming down heavily on the economic policies of the Centre, he said the BJP dispensation was making "unreasonable cuts" in the annual borrowing limit of the state.

By declaring the loans taken by Special Purpose Vehicles like KIIFB as the loans by the state government, its lending capacity has been cut short again, the CM said.

"Through this, the union government is trying to upset the revenue and expenditure calculations of the state and create a financial stagnation here," he alleged.

Such actions by the Centre are squeezing the southern state financially but "I do not understand why the opposition Congress-UDF is hesitant to talk about this."

Targeting the UDF leaders, he also said the only objective of some persons was to tarnish the state government for their narrow politics.

Earlier in the day, the UDF disrupted Assembly proceedings demanding a rollback of the tax proposals and cess in the budget and declared that it would continue its agitation inside and outside the House until the government withdraws it.


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