Hyderabad: The scalding prices of petroleum products are terrorizing the common-man throughout the country. This year the prices of petrol and diesel increased in altogether 24 phases.
In an unprecedented manner, the price rose for 12 successive days. In the backdrop of the economic devastation left behind by the Covid-19 pandemic, the petroleum fuel price rise is worsening the public woes.
The price rise is complicating the socio-economic crises. While confessing that no other answer except bringing down the price will convince people, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman has ostensibly stated that she is facing a 'Dharmsankat' in this matter.
She has stated that as the petroleum product prices are linked to the international market, control of the prices was not in her purview.
She has stated that the State and Center should talk among themselves to rationalize prices.
The Centre gave a green signal to the daily change in the petrol price in 2017. However, it is only telling half-truths as regards the fluctuation of international markets. Last year, the price of crude oil drastically fell due to the lack of demand resulting from the pandemic.
Instead of coming down the domestic price of petrol rose further due to the excise duties imposed by the Central and State governments.
The Central excise duty on petrol was Rs 19.98 before the advent of Covid-19. During the corona time, the duty was enhanced to Rs 32.98. Similarly, the excise duty on diesel was increased to Rs 31.83 from Rs 15.83. States too have contributed their mite in imposing duties.
The people ready sacrifice a bit considering the fact that the country is dependent on imports for 89 per cent of its crude oil requirements. Similarly, the country imports 53 per cent of the LPG required by it. People can understand that. But they are finding fault with the deception being perpetrated against them in the prevailing economic crisis situation.
A Hon’ble MP has rightly observed that the petrol prices are greater in India than the petrol price in Mother Sita’s birthplace Nepal and Ravana’s land Sri Lanka.
The Central Minister says that the petrol price variations between countries are natural, as the price is dependent on various factors like the concessions given to the people and duties imposed by respective governments.
Whatever the minister may say, the present rise of petrol to the range of Rs 100 per iter, remains unprecedented.
The excise duties on petroleum fuels stood at 51 per cent during the UPA regime. Today they have risen to 64.9 per cent.
In 2014, when the NDA government came to power the price of petrol was Rs 71 per litre and the price of diesel was Rs 57 per litre.
The price of crude oil was 110 USD per barrel at that time. Ironically the price of one barrel of crude oil has fallen to 65 USD today.
Instead of falling as per the government logic, the petrol price has risen by 28 per cent of its 2014 level and the price of diesel has risen by 42 per cent.
The unbridled rise of LPG price is affecting the budget of every household.
Prime Minister Modi says the present situation is the result of the failure of the past government to free the country from fuel dependency.
He has to take initiative to rationalize the prices of petroleum products. The Prime Minister is saying that his government is committed to bringing LPG under the purview of GST.
He should accede to the long-pending request for bringing the prices of petrol and diesel also under GST.
Even before that the duties imposed to meet the crisis situation resulting from Covid-19, should be immediately rolled back.
To achieve the objective of the 5 Trillion Dollar economy, the Center should regularize the fuel prices at a rational level. It should encourage States also to follow suit.