As fuel prices rose for the 11th consecutive day on Thursday, Union Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said that the Centre is deliberating on an “immediate solution” to deal with the prices that have been on fire.
“The oil ministry is of the view to bring petroleum products under the purview of the GST in order to bring down the prices of petrol and diesel. We are deliberating on an immediate solution to this problem till that time. We will certainly find a way out to deal with the situation,” Pradhan told reporters.
Amid suggestions that the Centre cut the excise duty on fuel, Pradhan said central government had reduced the excise on fuel by Rs 2 per litre last October in the interest of the poor.
“The Centre is now looking at both short and long term solutions,” he said.
He reiterated that global politics were behind the fuel price rise
“The political difference between two oil producing countries Iran and Venezuela has been a major cause behind the rise in the price of fuel in the international market,” Pradhan said. Earlier in the week, the minister said that OPEC’s production cut was a major reason for rising price of fuel in India which imports almost 80% of its oil requirements.
He also said that the sliding rupee hasn’t helped matters. “It is due to circumstances in international market. Value of Indian rupee has reduced in comparison to the dollar and there has been surge in oil prices. We are trying to control prices,” Pradhan said.
He also asked the Odisha government to reduce VAT on petroleum products to contain the cascading effect of rising fuel prices. But that suggestion drew a sharp response from Odisha Finance Minister S B Behera who accused Pradhan of “evading responsibility.”
“The reasons that the Union Oil Minister is giving is not justified. He is telling this to suppress the Central government’s inability to deal with the situation. The price of petrol and diesel will automatically come down if the centre reduces excise duty,” he said.
Behera wasn’t keen about Pradhan’s suggestions to bring petroleum products under GST. “All the state governments will take a decision in regard to the proposal of including petroleum products under GST. Now the Centre should not escape from its responsibility.”
Both opposition Congress and ruling BJD in Odisha have launched agitations against the spiralling prices of petrol and diesel.
Fuel prices across metros increased by another 30 paise on Thursday with petrol breaching Rs 85 per litre mark in Mumbai at a retail price of Rs 85.29 a litre. In Delhi, petrol was Rs 77.47 per litre, Rs 80.42 in Chennai, and Rs 80.12 in Kolkata, according to Indian Oil Corp.
In the past one week, petrol prices have gone up over Rs 2 per litre across metros. Diesel prices too rose by 30 paise on Thursday. Diesel was the most expensive in Mumbai at Rs 72.96 per litre, followed by Chennai at Rs 72.35 per litre, Kolkata at Rs 71.08 a litre and Delhi at 68.53 a litre