New Delhi, May 23, 2018 : Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Wednesday accused the Centre for penalising the common man with high fuel prices and said the government is continuing to fill its coffers at their behest.
On a day when petrol in Delhi rose by 30 paise and breached the Rs 77 per litre mark, Chidamabaram took to Twitter to outline how the central government is walking away with Rs 25 from every litre of fuel sold in the country. "Central government saves Rs 15 on every litre of petrol due to fall in crude oil prices. Central government puts an additional tax of Rs 10 on every litre of petrol. Bonanza to central government is Rs 25 on every litre of petrol. This money rightfully belongs to the average consumer," he wrote in a series of tweets. "It is possible to cut upto Rs 25 per litre, but the government will not. They will cheat the people by cutting price by Rs 1 or 2 per litre of petrol. "
Chidambaram was the Finance Minister of the country when Congress was in power and also at a time when international crude prices peaked at $147.3 per barrel - in 2008. Even then, fuel prices in India were slightly less than what they are now when international crude price is around $80 to each barrel.
Rising fuel costs have given ammunition to opposition leaders to flay the current government. Not that BJP leaders had not used the same tactics when they were in the opposition. For now though, they are busy blaming a volatile international market, rising crude prices, reduction in production by OPEC countries and the fallout of US-Iran nuclear deal for the costs. However, repeated increase in excise taxes since BJP came to power has been highlighted by not just opposition leaders but market analysts as well.
There has been a call to include petrol and diesel in GST which would ensure prices fall back appreciatively. That, however, would mean government collections taking a hit even as the Centre maintains that state governments too won’t allow for it to happen.
For now, speculation is if prices would end up touching the Rs 100 mark.