With prices of petrol and diesel being raised for the eighth day in a row, the Congress on Sunday demanded the recent increases be rolled back and petroleum products be brought under the GST regime. The rates of petrol, diesel and LPG should be reduced to their August 2004 levels as crude oil being sold at a rate prevalent at that time, Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said in a statement. He asked the Modi dispensation why petrol and diesel were being sold at a much higher rates when crude oil prices have gone down to USD 40 a barrel.
“Will Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government explain why petrol and diesel that cost less than Rs 20 per litre to India, is being sold at steep rates of Rs 75.78 per litre for petrol and Rs 74.03 per litre for diesel,” he asked. “The Congress Party demands that the benefit of reduced international crude oil prices should be passed on to the people and the rates of petrol, diesel, LPG be reduced to August 2004 level and petrol and diesel should be brought under the GST,” he said.
Surjewala also demanded that the 12 hikes in excise duty by the Modi government since May 2014 on petroleum products should be withdrawn immediately until it is brought under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime. Petrol and diesel prices have been hiked by Rs 4.52 per litre and Rs 4.64 per litre respectively during the last eight days despite crude oil prices being benign, he said.
The Congress leader said while Indians are battling the coronavirus pandemic and the poor, migrants, farmers, small businessmen and those who lost their jobs struggling to survive the economic ruin, instead of reducing their burden the “anti-people” BJP government is fleecing the people by not just raising fuel rates on daily basis but also refusing to share benefits of lower crude with people. He said the Modi government must reduce the prices of petrol, diesel and LPG to the August 2004 level as the current crude oil prices of around USD 40 US is of August 2004 level.
In August 2004, petrol was Rs 36.81 per litre, diesel Rs 24.16 and LPG Rs 261.60 per cylinder in Delhi, but currently petrol is being sold at Rs 75.78 per litre, diesel at Rs 74.03 per litre and LPG at Rs 593 per cylinder. “The government must immediately rollback the excise duty hike of Rs 23.78 on petrol and Rs 28.37 on diesel,” he said, noting that excise duty on petrol was Rs 9.20 per litre and on diesel it was Rs 3.46 per litre in May, 2014 when the Narendra Modi government assumed office.
Surjewala alleged that between 2014-15 and 2019-20, the Modi government has hiked taxes on petrol and diesel 12 times and has collected a whopping Rs 17,80,056 crore. When the people are reeling under difficult conditions, the government has no right to further burden them under high taxation, he said. Surjewala said if the Modi government rolls back the increases in excise duty during its tenure, petrol and diesel prices will come down to less than Rs 50 per litre.