OPPOSITION PARTIES on Thursday slammed the BJP government after it announced a Rs 2.50 per litre cut in prices of petrol and diesel. While the Congress said the Narendra Modi government was trying to apply “band aid” after inflicting a thousand wounds on the people, the Left called the government decision a joke played on the people of India.
The Congress claimed the government has made a revenue Rs 13 lakh crore in the past four years from petroleum products alone. The Opposition said the cut announced on Thursday was too little, too late and argued that the reduction came because the BJP is staring at defeat in key state elections later this year.
“Since May 2014, the Modi government has increased central excise duty 12 times. The central excise on petrol and diesel went up by 211 per cent and 443 per cent respectively. Customs duty has also been increased manifold. When the Congress demitted power, central excise duty on petrol was Rs 9.23 per litre. The Modi government has raised it to Rs 19.48 per litre. The excise duty on diesel was Rs 3.46 per litre in 2014. It stands at Rs 15.33 per litre now. Giving a paltry relief of Re 1.50 per litre is insignificant and like a needle in the haystack,” Congress communication department head Randeep Surjewala said.
On May 16, 2014, the price of crude oil was 107.09 US dollars per barrel. The price of international crude oil today is 86 dollars per barrel. The average crude price during the 52 months of Modi government is 58 dollars per barrel which is nearly 45 per cent less than what it was during the UPA tenure. Still, the prices of petrol and diesel continue to skyrocket at much higher levels during Modi government,” he added.
The CPI said the price cut was a joke played on the people of India in the festival month. “The reduction is too late and too little… the Centre should have reduced excise duty further and should have asked oil marketing companies to absorb more. Now the OMCs (oil marketing companies) have been asked to absorb only Re 1. Because when prices of crude oil were so low in international market, the OMCs made money. They did not pass on the benefit to the consumers. Now they should share the burden,” senior CPI leader D Raja said.
A CPI statement pointed out that some states, including Kerala, have already reduced the state levy on petroleum products by Rs 2. “Instead of asking the states to cut the levy by another Rs 2.50, the government should have effected meaningful reduction,” it said. It demanded reintroduction of the administered price mechanism in fixing the price of petroleum products.