Mumbai – Around 54,000 petrol pumps all over India will go on a 24-hour strike from midnight on October 13 seeking various demands including inclusion of petroleum products under the Goods and Services Tax (GST), said the United Petroleum Front.
"All the petroleum products must be brought under the Goods & Services Tax regime so that our long-pending demand of 'one nation, one rate' can be fulfilled to benefit the consumers," said Federation of All Maharashtra Petrol Dealers Association (Fampeda) President Uday Lodh.
He also demanded that the Daily Price Mechanism, implemented in July must be reviewed as it has failed to benefit either the consumers or the dealers.
At present, petroleum and petroleum products fall under the regime of VAT and local taxes, which has led to around 50% higher domestic prices than the prices in south east Asian countries. Under a GST regime, petroleum products would probably be taxed at 12%. This would automatically push down petrol prices. Some estimates show that petrol prices that rule upwards of Rs 70 per litre will plummet to a little over Rs 40 per litre the moment GST is charged on them (at 12%). Even petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan has admitted as much.
Since petroleum prices are an essential element in the production and transportation cycle, high fuel prices translate into a higher cost economy and this is especially detrimental at a time when the economy is not growing fast enough. It is like squeezing the economy when lower fuel prices can be used to stimulate growth, say analysts.
"As the first step, we shall stop buying and selling petrol/diesel at all the 54,000 pumps in the country on October 13. If our demands are not accepted, then from October 27, we shall launch an indefinite nationwide strike till all the trade anomalies are resolved," Lodh said.
According to Lodh, even the proposed 'Home Delivery' of petroleum products is riddled with major security issues, could lead to serious accidents and hence must be reconsidered.
Lodh said that a decision on the strike was taken at the first joint meeting of United Petroleum Front (UPF), an umbrella organization of three nationwide organisations of all petrol dealers - Federation of All India Petroleum Traders, All India Petroleum Dealers Association and Consortium of Indian Petroleum Dealers.
The other demands include implementation of the pending agreement signed with oil marketing companies on November 4, 2016, scrapping unfair penalties imposed under Marketing Discipline Guidelines and approved revised dealer margins every six months but which are not given.
Meanwhile, a petrol dealer said that the decision to combine the three top dealers' association under an umbrella organisation would result in better coordination and uniform action to fight for their common demands with the OMCs.