Petrol pumps versus banks: Negotiations underway on fuel surcharges, will customers bear the brunt?

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Published: January 9, 2017 12:20:36 PM

With petrol pumps across the nation deciding to postpone till January 13 their protest against the banks' decision to levy extra charge on card transactions...

Oil Marketing companies and banks are in talks and the former has given an incentive to increase digital transactions,” Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan told ANI. (Reuters)Oil Marketing companies and banks are in talks and the former has given an incentive to increase digital transactions,” Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan told ANI. (Reuters)

With petrol pumps across the nation deciding to postpone till January 13 their protest against the banks’ decision to levy extra charge on card transactions, the Centre has assured that negotiations are underway between banks and oil marketing companies, while assuring that surcharge will not be imposed on both customers and petrol pump owners. The question is will there be a solution after the discussions or will the customers bear the brunt? To promote cash-less transactions, the government had waived the Merchant Discount Rate (MDR) on fuel purchase post demonetisation for consumers. But after the expiry of the 50-day window, the banks have decided to levy MDR on petrol pump owners. This meant petrol pumps having to bear 1 per cent on all credit card transactions and between 0.25 per cent and 1 per cent on all debit card transactions.

“Let me make it clear that customers will not be levied with any surcharge. Petrol Pumps were worried that they surcharge will be upon their heads, but let me assure them that it will not befall on them as well. Oil Marketing companies and banks are in talks and the former has given an incentive to increase digital transactions,” Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan told ANI. Further informing that the Centre has advised both the banks and the oil marketing companies that they need to come together and find out a solution, Pradhan asserted that all efforts are being made so that neither the customers nor the petrol pump owners are levied with any surcharge.

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Amid threats from the All India Petroleum Dealers Association to stop accepting credit or debit cards in protest against additional charge on card transactions, Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra on Monday attacked the Centre. Vadra said there was lack of coordination between banks and the government. “The government seems to have reached its levels of desperation to overcome the initial blunder it created through the unplanned and unthought process of demonetisation,” Vadra said on Facebook. “First government offered sops to push people to use debit or credit cards, and when people started using more of cashless means, now lack of coordination with banks and their policies is forcing petrol pump owners to adopt these drastic steps,” he said.

However, the Delhi Petrol Dealers Association (DPDA) has firmly denied charges that one percent surcharge was levied before demonetisation, asserting that the surcharge was imposed only at normal establishments and never at any petrol pumps. “Let me clarify once again, as many news channels are saying that this one percent was levied before the demonetisation move but this was never done at any petrol pump across the country. This one percent surcharge was levied at normal establishments but not at petrol pumps,” DPDA president Anurag Narayan told ANI here.

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