Chidambaram slams government over petrol prices; says Modi clueless, floundering without oil bonanza

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Updated: April 20, 2018 12:12:27 PM

As petrol price hits a 55-month-high and just 1 paisa short of reaching the second higher level in India's history, former finance minister P Chidambaram has slammed the Narendra Modi government for high fuel prices.

Without oil bonanza, Modi government is clueless and floundering: P Chidambaram on petrol, diesel pricesMinus the oil bonanza, the BJP government is clueless and floundering, says Chidambaram. (Image: PTI)

As petrol price hits a 55-month-high and just 1 paisa short of reaching the second higher level in India’s history, former finance minister P Chidambaram has slammed the Narendra Modi government for high fuel prices, saying that without the low price oil bonanza, it is “clueless and floundering”.

In a series of tweets on Friday, P Chidambaram asked that why is that petrol and diesel prices are higher today than they were in May 2014 when the crude oil price at $74 per barrel is still lower than $105 four years ago. He also replied sarcastically that by now even a school kid knows the answer and that is “tax the consumer” policy of the government.

Also Read: Petrol price just 3 paise away from hitting 2nd highest level in India’s history

He also asked why the government is not bringing fuel prices under the Goods and Services Tax, which is believed to bring down the overall tax levied on them and thus, bring down the cost. “BJP boasts that it is ruling 22 States.
Then, why does the BJP government refuse to bring petroleum and petroleum products under GST?” he asked.

The fuel prices are at a comparatively higher level as compared with the international prices as the Narendra Modi government raised excise duty on petrol price from Rs 9.48 a litre in April 2014 to Rs 21.48 in January 2016 and diesel price from Rs 3.56 a litre to Rs 17.33.

The excise duty was raised when international oil prices were extreme cheaper. In October 2017, when international oil prices began surging again, the government announced an excise duty cut of Rs 2 a litre on both petrol and diesel prices. The centre also urged states to cut retail VAT, however, only four states did so, three of which are BJP-ruled and one was poll-bound.

While Narendra Modi government gained significantly from a three-year-long low oil price windfall, now when the oil prices are at a four year high, the tight fiscal situation is understood to have left no room for further excise duty cuts.

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