NEW DELHI: Amid widespread protest against the rising fuel prices, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Wednesday said that the Central government will do everything to keep the fuel prices within the reach of consumers, particularly the middle class.
“We have a long term approach in tackling the rising prices of fuel. We are taking several steps to keep it within the reach of common man…Will not let the prices to go beyond reach,” Pradhan said, while highlighting the four year achievements of his ministries.
After hitting an all-time high of Rs 78.43 a litre for petrol and Rs 69.31 for diesel on May 29, rates have been cut on subsequent days on softening international oil prices and rupee strengthening against the US dollar.
Asked if the solutions under consideration include partial roll-back of fuel price deregulation, he said, “Not at all.”
“This question doesn’t arise. This government is a pro-reform government and we cannot go back on what we have reformed,” he said.
The government had deregulated or freed petrol pricing from its control in June 2010 and diesel in October 2014. It allowed revision of prices on daily basis since mid-June last year to reflect changes in cost instantly.
Pradhan also refuted the claims made by former finance minister P Chidambaram that it is possible to reduce the prices of petrol by Rs 25 per litre. He said that it is not justified to compare present retail oil prices with the oil prices that was during the UPA government. “The previous government put a heavy oil bond burden on this government that has been paid by us. Reflection of this is pointed out in our inflation numbers,” he added.
Pradhan parried questions on centre cutting excise tax to offer relief to common man.
He said taxes on petrol and diesel are made up of excise duty charged by the centre, and sales tax charged by state governments. The taxes charged by states should be “reasonable and responsible,” he said refusing to be drawn into debate on most BJP states refusing to cut VAT.