"Who owns a vehicle and can afford to pay, will have to pay", says Union Minister Alphons Kannanthanam, while trying to explain the consistent rise in the fuel price for which the Centre has been facing backlash.
His comments came at a time when fuel prices are at a three-year high when worldwide crude prices have crashed attracted strong criticism from opposition parties which described them as insensitive to the common man's problems.
Speaking to the media, he stated that government is going to tax people who can afford to pay as it (development) is going to cost an enormous amount of money.
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Alphons courted controversy when he said while speaking to the press that somebody who can afford a auto or scooter is not somebody who is starving. "Uplifting them is going to cost a lot of money and we are going to tax people who can afford to pay", he added.
He also justified the price hike by saying the money is being utilised for the welfare of the poor.
The state unit of the BJP had come under criticism as on the day Alphons was sworn in, the state party headquarters wore a deserted look and the only celebrations was only at his home town in Kanjirapally. "Lot of people do not have a house", the newly-inducted NDA minister said.
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Former Petroleum Minister Veerappa Moily described Alphons' statement as "atrocious". "So that poor in the country will have a dignified life", the minister said.
Meanwhile, the Congress plans to launch a massive nationwide agitation against the increase on central excise duty on petrol and diesel from Delhi on September 20.
Alphons said the tax for petroleum products could come down if it was brought under the ambit of GST. "The government's programme is to ensure basic amenities including food, shelter, sanitation and education to the poor and this needed crores of rupees", he said.
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