It had resisted the call for a reduction in excise duty since May when retail rates first shot up and then again from mid-August when fuel prices started moving up.
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Soon after the Central government announced a cut of Rs 2.50 per litre on diesel and petrol today (October 4), all the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled states followed suit by slashing the fuel prices by another Rs 2.50 per litre. Following the Centre's announcement, BJP-ruled Maharashtra and Gujarat - which are among the highest taxing state, announced Rs 2.50 per litre reduction in the Value-Added Tax.
Acting on Arun Jaitley's advice, chief ministers of Maharashtra and Gujarat reduced state taxes on petrol and diesel. "The central and state government are working together to give more and more relief to the people", he told ANI. "So, a total of Rs.2.50 will be reduced on both diesel and petrol", said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
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In the press conference, Jaitley said that he expects to see a negative revenue impact of Rs 10,500 crore as a result of the tax cuts and said that he expected that the government would be able to absorb the impact without harming its fiscal deficit target of 3.3%. Only a few weeks ago, multiple media reports, quoting anonymous senior government officials, indicating that the government had no plans of cutting excise duty. Jaitley said he on Wednesday met Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and inter-ministerial consultations continued on Thursday. Oil marketing companies, simultaneously, will take a Re 1 per litre hit as well.
Jaitley, however, downplayed fiscal implications around the fuel price cut.
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Fuel prices across the country have been scaling new heights everyday on the back of sustained depreciation of the rupee against the dollar and crude prices trading around its four-year high of $86 per barrel. The hike pushed petrol price in Delhi to an all-time high of Rs 84 per litre and diesel to Rs 75.45. "But the fact is that we have to react to a situation.if without impacting the fiscal deficit I can give relief, and I had always said that our ability to give relief will not be at the cost of fiscal deficit", he said.