Union Minister Alphons Kannanthanam on Saturday said the Centre was mobilising resources for launching infrastructure projects and welfare measures for the poor and downtrodden in the country.
The money collected as taxes, goes for implementing welfare schemes for the poor, he said, adding this was to enable them to have a dignified life.
“To make houses and toilets and to get electricity to every village... it is going to cost enormous amount of money. So we are going to tax people who can afford to pay,” he said.
On the rise in petrol prices, the minister queried, “Who buys petrol... somebody with car, somebody with a bike. Certainly, they are not starving... somebody who can afford to pay has to pay.”
Asked about the increase in prices of essential commodities in the wake of fuel price hike, Kannanthanam said inflation rate of 4 per cent in the country was less than half per cent prescribed by the Reserve Bank of India.
He said the tax on petroleum products could come down if it was brought under the ambit of GST.
However, states were not ready to bring liquor and petroleum products under GST, he said.
The minister said the Centre would consider bringing petroleum and liquor under GST, if state governments agree to it.
The main focus of the government was the welfare of the poor and downtrodden.
“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.
The revenue collected from petroleum products was used for implementing projects for them, he added.
When pointed out that the Bharatiya Janata Party strongly opposed the fuel price hike when the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government was in power, Kannanthanam said “This government is using the money for the sake of poor and downtrodden. Our motto is simple.”