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No sense in increasing petrol, diesel prices when economy in shambles, roll them back: Sonia tells govt

In a letter to PM, Gandhi said she was deeply distressed that in these exceedingly difficult times, the government has taken the insensitive decision to increase petrol, diesel prices.

Published: 16th June 2020 10:48 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th June 2020 11:03 AM   |  A+A-

Congress interim chief Sonia Gandhi (File Photo | EPS)

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI: Taking a jibe at the government, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi Tuesday questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi on increasing the prices of petrol and diesel when the economic impact of Covid-19 has resulted in large scale unemployment and devastated businesses.

In a letter to PM, Gandhi said she was deeply distressed that in these exceedingly difficult times, the government has taken the insensitive decision to increase petrol and diesel prices on no less than ten separate occasions.

"Your Government is seeking to earn an additional revenue of nearly Rs. 2,60,000 crores by these ill-advised hikes in excise duty and increases in the petrol of diesel. As it is, people across the board are facing unimaginable hardships what to say of widespread fear and insecurity. These price increases are saddling our people with an additional burden of this enormous magnitude that is neither justified nor appropriate," she said.

Emphasising that it is the duty and responsibility of the government to alleviate suffering, not put the people to still greater hardship, she further said: "I see no logic in why the Government would even consider such a price increase at a time when the economic impact of Covid-19 is  depriving millions of jobs and livelihood, devastating business big and small, rapidly eroding the income of the middle class, even as farmers are struggling to sow the crop for the Kharif season."

"Given that the international price of crude oil has fallen by approximate 9 per cent over the last week, the Government is doing nothing short of profiteering off its people – when they are down and out. It is a matter of record that despite historically low oil prices over the last six years your government’s revenues have been massively enriched by the cumulative increase in excise duty on petrol and diesel on twelve different occasions (by an additional Rs 23.78 per litre on petrol and Rs 28.37 on diesel)," she added.

Gandhi said that this translates into a 258 per cent increase in excise on petrol and 820 per cent hike in excise duty on diesel yielding in these six years a staggering Rs. 18,00,000 crores from excise collection on petrol and diesel alone. 

"If ever there was ever a time to deploy these resources in the service of the people, it is now. I urge you to roll back these increases and pass on the benefit of low oil prices directly to the citizens of this country. If you wish for them to be ‘self-reliant’ then do not place financial fetters on their ability to move forward," she added. 

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