After Congress, now BJP gets Montek Singh Ahluwalia as Alphons who defends fuel price hike

After Congress, now BJP gets Montek Singh Ahluwalia as Alphons who defends fuel price hike

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM (INDIA):¬†Vehicle owners are people who are “not starving” and can afford to pay for petrol, Union minister Alphons Kannanthanam on Saturday said, defending the fuel price hike.nnHe said the tax was aimed at mobilising resources for infrastructure projects.nn”All the money collected goes to the poor and it is an intentional decision taken by the government,” Alphons told reporters here.nnHe was speaking after visiting the BJP state head office for the first time on assuming charge as Union minister for tourism and IT.nn”So we are going to tax people who can afford to pay. Who buys petrol … somebody with car, somebody with a bike. Certainly, they are not starving. Somebody who can afford to pay, has to pay,” he said.nn”Yes we are imposing tax on petroleum products … So that poor in the country will have a dignified life,” the minister said.nnHe said the funds are being used, among other things, to build toilets and houses for the poor.nnWhen pointed out that the BJP had opposed fuel price hike during the UPA regime, Alphons said the government was using the money for the poor and the downtrodden.nn”Our motto is simple. We are here for the welfare of the lowest in the downtrodden. To make houses and toilets and to get electricity to every villages, it is going to cost enormous amount of money,” he said.nnAlphons’ remarks come at a time when the Congress has demanded withdrawal of central excise duties and other taxes on petrol and diesel and that it would soon launch a signature campaign in protest.nn”The Narendra Modi-led government’s main focus was welfare of the poor and downtrodden. In India, 30 per cent of the people are downtrodden and crores of rupees were needed for their welfare,” he said.nnAlphons said the tax for petroleum products could come down if it was brought under the ambit of GST.nnBut states were not willing to bring liquor and petroleum products under GST, he added.nnAsked about price rise of essential commodities in the wake of fuel price hike, Alphons said inflation rate of four per cent in the country was less than half per cent prescribed by the RBI.nnOpposition leader in the state assembly, Ramesh Chennithala, hit out at the Union minister for his remarks on fuel price hike and described it as “utter foolishness”.nnIn 2011, the Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia has stated that a person with consumption of up to Rs 32 per day would be considered poor in urban areas in its affidavit. The per capita consumption limit in rural area has been fixed at Rs 26 a day.nnAsserting that the data forwarded to the apex court was set by the Tendulkar Committee which was appointed to define the poverty line, he said the amount fixed were per each person not per family.nnWith PTI inputs

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