‘After Covid, fuel issue another jolt’’

‘After Covid, fuel issue another jolt’’

CPM says oil price hike will increase prices of all essential items

The relentless increase in the prices of petrol and diesel is adding to the problems of people already burdened by the pandemic woes of joblessness and loss of incomes, the CPI (M) said today.

In an editorial in its official journal People’s Democracy, the party said the daily increase in the retail prices had led to the petrol price breaching the Rs 90 per litre mark in various cities. At this rate, the Rs 100 mark will be reached very soon.The government and the oil companies justified this increase citing the rising global prices of crude oil. This was, however, a “specious” claim. “The single biggest reason for the crushing burden is the exorbitant Central taxes on petroleum products,” the party said.

At present, in Delhi, 63 per cent of the retail price of petrol per litre comprises of taxes, of which the Central component is 40 per cent while the State VAT is 23 per cent.

Between 2014-15 and 2021- 21, prices of the Indian basket of crude oil (the mix of crude oils that India buys) went up by 17.6 per cent. In the same period, the average retail selling price in India went up by 55.3 per cent for petrol and 72.5 per cent for diesel. It is clear the retail prices had increased far more than the global price levels, the party said.

The backbreaking prices have been caused by the constant increase in excise duties and cesses levied by the Central government. Even in the year of the pandemic last year, the Modi government on 14th March hiked the excise duty on petrol and diesel by Rs 3 per litre each, the editorial said. This was followed by a savage hike in the excise duties on 6th May ~ Rs 10 per litre increase on petrol and Rs 13 per litre on diesel.

Between 2014-15 and 2019-20, the excise duty collections by the Central government increased by 125 per cent, while the states tax revenue from the petroleum products increased by 37.5 per cent.

Instead of reducing its taxes, Centre has proposed in the recent Budget a new agriculture and infrastructure development cess of Rs 2.5 per litre of petrol and Rs 4 on a litre of diesel. CPI (M) politburo statement said the hikes in prices of petroleum products will result in higher transportation costs which will increase the prices of all essential commodities.


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