Govt concerned about middle class, poor man, says Dharmendra Pradhan

Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan
With crude breaching two-year high of USD 65 per barrel, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan today said the government is concerned about middle class and poor man, but did not say if it will cut excise duties to cushion the price hike.

He attributed the spike in international oil prices to "some pipeline turbulence" in Europe and winter demand.

"Let us wait and watch," he said. "Today, price is under control in India."

Asked if the government is considering excise duty cut, he said excise duty was cut recently and some states also reduced VAT.

"Let us see how things are unfolding," he said. "But the government is very concerned about middle class and poor man."

The government in October cut excise duty on petrol and diesel by Rs 2 per litre in a bid to moderate the relentless rise in fuel prices witnessed in the previous three months.

After the cut, petrol price came down to Rs 68.38 per litre and diesel to Rs 56.89 in Delhi on October 4. Rates have since climbed to Rs 69.07 per litre for petrol.

The excise duty cut cost the government Rs 26,000 crore in annual revenue and about Rs 13,000 crore during the remaining part of the current fiscal year that ends on March 31, 2018.

The government had between November 2014 and January 2016 raised excise duty on petrol and diesel on nine occasions to take away gains arising from plummeting global oil prices.

In all, duty on petrol was hiked by Rs 11.77 per litre and that on diesel by 13.47 a litre in those 15 months that helped government's excise mop-up more than double to Rs 242,000 crore in 2016-17 from Rs 99,000 crore in 2014-15.

State-owned oil companies in June dumped the 15-year old practice of revising rates on 1st and 16th of every month and instead adopted a dynamic daily price revision to instantly reflect changes in cost. Rates during the first fortnight starting June 16 dropped but have been on the rise since July 4.