Parliament on Tuesday passed the budget 2010-11 with the finance minister Pranab Mukherjee remaining firm and turning down all pleas for a rollback of increase in duties on fuel.
It is not possible as the situation is very difficult. Please bear with me and let us wait for better days, Mr Mukherjee said winding up the debate on the Finance Bill in the Upper House. Rajya Sabha then returned the Bill to the Lok Sabha, the lower house of Parliament, thus completing the nine-week Budget exercise.
Mr Mukherjee had in the Budget for 2010-11 raised excise and customs duty on auto fuels to raise Rs 26,000 crore. The hike in duties had resulted in hike in petrol prices by Rs 2.71 a litre and diesel by Rs 2.55 per litre in Delhi.
The opposition had demanded roll-back of the duties saying the fuel price hike hurt the common man already struggling on account of high food prices.
Admitting that food prices were high, the finance minister emphasised on the need to revamp the Public Distribution System (PDS) to blunt the impact of inflation on common man. PDS must be in place. It must be functional.
Sitting at the Centre, it is not possible to run PDS. Primarily, it is the responsibility of the states, Mr Mukherjee said.
Food inflation moderated to 16.61% during the week ended April 17 from over 20% in December last year. No doubt inflation is an important issue. It is affecting the life of common people... if the food inflation is high, any kind of economic logic is not going to satisfy the hungry man, he said.
He said the government has decided to offload stocks to the states at prices at which the Centre has procured. It is not possible to provide subsidy across the board as the Centre has been providing subsidised foodgrains to different vulnerable sections of the society.