State-run oil companies raised petrol prices by 17 paise a litre and that of diesel by 21 paise on Monday after a 19-day gap. The oil companies said that the price revision was necessary because of increasing international oil rates, PTI reported.
After the revision, a litre of petrol in Delhi will cost Rs 74.80 while diesel will be available for Rs 66.14 a litre. With this, diesel prices are now at a record high while petrol is at a 56-month peak.
The oil firms had kept the rates unchanged since April 24, nearly three weeks before Karnataka went to the polls on May 12. However, they did not confirm if their decision to freeze fuel prices in India was dictated by the Union government in view of the Karnataka elections. Since June, the price of fuel in India has been revised almost daily in sync with fluctuations in the price of oil in international markets.
The oil companies are estimated to have incurred losses of about Rs 500 crore as since April 24 international oil rates have spiked and the rupee has also fallen against the US dollar.
The Congress was quick to point it out. “There we go again,” tweeted former Union minister P Chidambaram. “More taxes on petrol and diesel, more burden on the consumer. The Karnataka election was only an interval.”
India has the highest retail prices of petrol and diesel among South Asian nations as taxes account for half of the pump rates. The government raised the excise duty on fuel nine times between November 2014 and January 2016 to shore up finances as global oil prices declined, but then cut the tax by Rs 2 a litre in October 2017.
In June 2017, state-owned oil companies such as Indian Oil Corporation, Bharat Petroleum Corporation and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation discontinued a 15-year practice of revising rates every fortnight and switched to daily revisions. Consequently, any rise in global crude prices affects rates in India almost immediately.