Centre working on long-term solution on fuel price hike: Pradhan

Posted May 28, 2018

Burning a hole in public's pocket, the fuel prices on Sunday continued to skyrocket on the 14th straight day with petrol surging to a new high of Rs 78.12 per litre in Delhi.

In Chennai, petrol price was at Rs 81.26 per litre while diesel went up to Rs 73.03 per litre.

Similarly, the diesel rates have also touched a high of Rs 68.53 and Rs 72.96 per litre in Delhi and Mumbai, respectively.

The fuel price hike can no more be blamed on crude oil prices.

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The Union Minister put the blame on uncertain political conditions in oil exploring countries and the global market for the oil price rise.

On April 2, he said: We are sensitive regarding petrol and diesel price hike.

The incessant hike in petrol and diesel prices has been mostly due to rise in crude oil prices and the high taxes - excise duty and VAT - levied on fuels. For growth, low crude prices are a positive impetus through higher discretionary incomes for households and lower input costs for business/manufacturers alongside agricultural production. Oil companies are estimated to have lost about Rs 500 crore because of the price freeze for three weeks, PTI reported.

The government raised excise duty nine times between November 2014 and January 2016 to shore up finances as global oil prices fell, but then cut the tax just once in October a year ago by Rs2 a litre.

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Average fuel prices have suffered even more than supermarket prices, rising nearly 8.5p a litre since the end of March - though not every day. Economic analysts agree that fuel prices in GST would not only cause a fall in cash flowing into coffers of the central government but that of state governments too. The tax may come in form of a cess, will kick in the moment oil prices cross $70/bbl.

Indian Oil (IOC), the country's top refiner, will turn to its traditional oil suppliers, mostly in the Middle East, if USA sanctions against Iran result in supply disruptions, its head of finance said.

Pradhan further said that the Centre under Prime Minister Narendra Modi will soon take quick measures to give some relief to the common people from the sky-rocketing fuel prices. "Public perceptions change fast and if the current price rise continues, it would be hard to tone down public anger and get their favour in the form of votes again", said an official of oil marketing firm not willing to be named. With the West Asian situation getting uncertain, thanks also to the idiosyncrasies of US President Donald Trump, disruption in supplies and consequent pressures on crude prices can not be ruled out.

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