Govt freebies cost US ALL dearly

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The Centre needs to explain whether free vaccination is behind the spiralling of fuel prices. Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Rameshwar Teli has let the cat out of the bag, saying:

The Centre needs to explain whether free vaccination is behind the spiralling of fuel prices. Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Rameshwar Teli has let the cat out of the bag, saying: "You must've taken a free vaccine, where will the money come from? You haven't paid the money; this is how it was collected and that is why the petrol prices have increased." He also said recently funds from his ministry were diverted to the health ministry to pay for the vaccines.

On June 7, the Prime Minister had said, "From June 21, which is also International Yoga Day, the central government will give Covid-19 vaccines to all States." This means the Centre will procure 75 per cent of all vaccines produced in India and supply them to adults free of cost. One may ask what's wrong with this statement. Absolutely nothing. But it only shows lack of transparency in governance. Why not the Centre openly say the oil prices are surging because of free vaccine or other free schemes. Spending a few hundred rupees on vaccine perhaps would have been a better choice for the common man than paying Rs 107 per litre of petrol every day.

In 1963, five litres of petrol used to cost Rs 3.60. Even around 1968 or 69, it used to be around Rs 5 per gallon which is about 4 litres. But things started going haywire as the political mad race for votes made the parties announce freebies, without taking measures to provide skill development and make people earn their living. This naturally required a huge revenue and the governments started levying all kinds of taxes, but never thought of stopping freebies.

This has now led to a situation where the Centre and the States are facing revenue crunch. It is thought liquor, tobacco are good sources of revenue and their addicts would buy them, whatever the price be. But the governments still refuse to accept that this policy has ruined several families as major share of family income goes towards compulsive buying of these products. In effect, excess freebies are breaking the back of common man. Belying all expectations, Modi government, which came to power in 2014 on promise of governance with difference, has also been following the all-free policy, thus putting unbearable burden on the genuine taxpayer.

The recent unearthing of Rs 142 crore stacked away in the cupboards of a pharma company reinforces belief that only hospitals and pharma companies benefited the most from the Corona pandemic. It gives an impression that monopoly is being encouraged. We have seen how the hoarding and black marketing of Remdesivir turned a cash cow for some companies. No government could rein in unscrupulous people or companies or hospitals.

All this begs the questions: Why can't governments show courage and stop coming up with new schemes along lines of caste and community and seek votes based on their performance? Why don't they forego some per cent of the tax levied on petrol and diesel? Why can't elected people's representatives come forward saying they will sacrifice their perks, and thereby contribute a little by way of reducing the expenditure of governments? Why only burden the common man?

It is time people, too, started thinking seriously about these. Afterall, next general elections are just two years away.

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