Prime Minister Narendra Modi used a familiar diversionary tactic to blame the UPA regime for the dramatic surge in gasoline and diesel prices – peaking above Rs 100 per liter in several parts of the country – while trying to hide his government’s colossal failure to manage a burning problem that could ignite inflation just when it seemed to have been brought under control.
Modi said the middle class would not have been overwhelmed if previous governments had focused on reducing India’s energy dependence.
“Can we be so dependent on imports? I don’t want to criticize anyone but I mean (that) if we had focused on this topic earlier, our middle class would not have been overwhelmed, ”he said during a ceremony to inaugurate oil projects and gas as part of a survey. Tamil Nadu.
The NDA government has failed to come up with a credible plan to reduce dependence on imports since domestic oil and gas production only meets about 18 percent of the country’s energy demand. Data shows that demand for crude oil in India has reached 4.9 million barrels per day (b / d) against less than 1 million b / d of total domestic liquids production.
Without referring to the relentless increase in retail fuel prices, which are tied to international tariffs, Modi said India imported more than 85% of its oil needs in FY 2019-20 and nearly 53% of its gas needs.
Gasoline and diesel prices have broken records almost daily even as Assembly polls loom in four states, including Bengal. Assam, which will also go to the polls with Bengal, reduced the state tax on gasoline and diesel, as did Mizoram and Rajasthan, where gasoline on Wednesday crossed the 100 rupee mark by liter.
Opposition parties, including Congress, have criticized the price hikes, accusing the Modi government of raising taxes in order to reap the benefits of falling international oil rates to their lowest level in two decades. in April-May of last year.
While global rates have rebounded with a pick-up in demand, the government has failed to restore taxes, which are at an all time high.
Central and state taxes account for 60 percent of the retail price of gasoline and over 54 percent of diesel.
Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan recently ruled out the possibility of the government intervening by lowering tariffs and providing some relief to consumers.
Since coming to power in May 2014, the Modi government has periodically increased excise taxes on gasoline and diesel, even when the world price of crude fell to $ 18 a barrel in April last year.
While the duty was 9.48 rupees per liter of gasoline and 3.56 rupees per liter of diesel in May 2014, it has increased to 32.90 rupees per liter of gasoline and to 31.80 rupees for the diesel.
Taxes account for over 61 percent of the retail price of gasoline while they constitute over 56 percent of diesel prices.
Pradhan on Wednesday urged Saudi Arabia and other global oil producers to cut production cuts, saying rising international oil prices are hurting economic recovery and demand.
The recovery in demand is expected to take “primacy” over oil prices at least for the next few months, he said.
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