The Centre on Saturday hiked excise duty on petrol and diesel by Rs 3 per litre, even as international crude oil prices continue to fall, the Hindustan Times reported. The government also hiked the special excise duty on petrol from Rs 2 per litre to Rs 8 per litre, and Rs 2 per litre to Rs 4 per litre in the case of diesel.

The government raised the road cess on petrol and diesel by Rs 1 each, to Rs 10.

An increase in excise duty, in normal times, brings about a rise in the prices of the two fuels. However, since crude oil prices have been falling, this rise will be adjusted, PTI reported. Fuel prices in India have been on the decline since February 27.

Responding to the excise duty revision, Congress leader Ajay Maken said the government should extend the benefits of reduced international crude oil prices to the people. “Petrol, diesel and LPG prices must drop by 35 to 40%,” he said, according to PTI.

On March 9, global crude oil prices fell the most since the 1991 Gulf War, amid a price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia. Saudi Arabia slashed its prices and said it would release its hoarded supply into a market affected by falling demand because of the coronavirus epidemic.

Saudi Arabia hopes to punish Russia for expressing reluctance at production cuts proposed by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC. Russia is the world’s second-largest producer of crude oil, while Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest exporter. OPEC and other producers supported production cuts in a bid to stabilise supply following the coronavirus outbreak.

Crude oil was priced at Rs 2,396 per litre on Friday, Moneycontrol reported.