There’s no doubt that the cost of many items that the aspiring middle class is buying or using has risen.
Just over a lakh of around one crore people who opted out of the domestic cooking gas subsidy have reclaimed it a year after being induced by the Prime Minister’s emotional “Give it up” campaign. More households are likely to reclaim their 12 subsidised cylinders in a year as international fuel prices go up and the subsidy is almost Rs 300 per cylinder. This is a reflection not only of families trying to save over Rs 3,000 a year, but also the fact that the cost of living is going up disproportionately in the past few years, which is not fully reflected in the inflation figures.
There’s no doubt that the cost of many items that the aspiring middle class is buying or using has risen. The government is said to have saved nearly Rs 1,700 crores last year with people foregoing their LPG subsidy, while also facilitating the supply of cylinders to poor families using wood or kerosene to cook. Since the new financial year began, the prices of many other goods and services have risen. It is unlikely that GST, set to roll out on July 1, will bring prices down. Also, people reclaiming their subsidy must be seen as a reaction to the little relief given to those paying income-tax as their burden is going to be only a bit less in the new accounting year, while they have to cope with paying more for most things that they use, including possibly insurance. The sense of equity in most households with one subsidised cylinder a month must be preserved for fairness to prevail.