New Delhi: Today is the tenth day in a row the Oil Marketing Companies have raised the prices of Petrol and Deisel. The price of petrol was increased by 47 paise a liter on Monday while that of diesel by 57 paise a liter in Delhi. Petrol and diesel will now cost Rs 76.73/litre and Rs 75.19/litre respectively in the national capital. Crude oil prices, while not at their year’s lowest are trading in the price range of US 34 – 40 per barrel. The OPEC basket rate is at 35.06
The public and the opposition are rather subdued in their opposition to the price hikes because perhaps they are incremental in nature and the impact is not immediately visible. It is clear though through both the terms of the Modi Government, the excise and other duties have been raised to garner the benefits low crude prices to maintain its expenditure levels.
According to a report in the Hindustan Times, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to roll back the fuel price and pass on the benefit of reduced international crude oil rates to consumers, saying if “you want citizens to be self-reliant then do not place financial fetters on their ability to move forward”.
She also mentioned the difficult times the nation is going through. “I am deeply distressed that in these exceedingly difficult times since the beginning of March, the government has taken the wholly insensitive decision to increase petrol and diesel prices on no less than on ten separate occasions,” she wrote.
“Your government is seeking to earn an additional revenue of nearly Rs 2,60,000 crore by these ill-advised hikes in excise duty and increases in the petrol of diesel. As it is, people across the board are facing unimaginable hardships what to say of widespread fear and insecurity,” the Congress chief said.
“These price increases are saddling our people with an additional burden of this enormous magnitude that is neither justified nor appropriate. It is the duty and responsibility of the government to alleviate suffering, not put the people to still greater hardship,” she added.
Gandhi wondered about the motives behind such an increase at a time when the economic impact of Covid-19 is “depriving millions of jobs and livelihood, devastating business big and small, rapidly eroding the income” of the middle class, even as farmers are struggling to sow the crop for the Kharif season.
The crude prices have decreased by around 9% over the last week itself and were at an all-time low earlier in the year. Gandhi said the government is doing “nothing short of profiteering off its people – when they are down and out”.
Yesterday, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi had criticized the government over the increase in petrol and diesel prices.
In what may an outlandish demand, but one that will resonate with voters, the party also demanded that the rates of petrol, diesel, and LPG be reduced to the August 2004 level. The price of petrol then was Rs 36.81 per liter, diesel was sold at Rs 24.16 per liter and LPG Rs 261.60 per cylinder in Delhi, it said.
Gandhi, further said it is a matter of record that despite historically low oil prices over the last six years your government’s revenues have been massively enriched by the cumulative increase in excise duty on petrol and diesel on twelve different occasions (by an additional Rs 23.78 per liter on petrol and Rs 28.37 on diesel).
“This translates into a 258% increase in excise on petrol and 820% hike in excise duty on diesel yielding in these six years a staggering Rs 18,00,000 crore from excise collection on petrol and diesel alone. If ever there was ever a time to deploy these resources in the service of the people, it is now,” she said.
The party has also been demanding that petrol and diesel be brought under the ambit of Goods and Services Tax (GST) to quell these arbitrary increases in taxes.
Gandhi urged the Prime Minister to roll back these increases and pass on the benefit of low oil prices directly to the citizens of this country.