Petrol, diesel prices soar to record new high

Petrol prices in New Delhi and Mumbai rose to an all-time high of Rs 79.51 and Rs 86.91 per litre respectively, news agency ANI reported on Thursday. Diesel prices too rose up by Rs 0.36 per litre in Delhi (Rs 71.55 per litre) and Rs 0.42 in Mumbai (Rs 75.96 per litre).

Despite the spiralling prices, the Centre has decided not to cut excise duty on petrol and diesel due to its fiscal responsibility, a top official had told PTI on Tuesday.

With imports becoming costlier because of a free-fall in rupee against the US dollar, the government believes the current account deficit will overshoot the target and it cannot “disturb fiscal maths by cutting excise duty on petrol and diesel”, the official had said on condition of anonymity.

On Sunday, Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan had blamed “external factors” for the rise in domestic prices of petrol and diesel but said the increase is temporary.

Pradhan said the factors responsible for the drop in production of crude oil have caused a spike in fuel prices in India. “I would like to mention two points, and both these subjects are external. OPEC (Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) had promised that it will raise production by one million barrels per day, which was not raised. “Apart from that, crises in countries like Venezuela and Iran are increasing. There is a pressure on oil prices due to a decrease in production. Secondly, global currencies have weakened against the US dollar,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) in Mumbai estimates that it would incur an additional financial burden of Rs 6.57 crore by March 2019 because of rising fuel prices. More than half of BEST buses run on diesel, and the cash-strapped organisation said rising diesel prices were hitting it hard.

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