Expect bigger petrol price increases following government intervention

Dwayne Harmon
September 4, 2018

On Tuesday, the rupee closed to a record low of Rs 71.58 per dollar. Brent crude oil is now priced over $78 per barrel.

Officials have suggested that the increase in petrol and diesel prices is down to mainly the falling exchange rate of rupee against the dollar.

Petrol is being sold Rs.0.31 higher at Rs 79.15 per litre, while diesel prices have been hiked by Rs.0.39 to Rs 71.15 per litre.

The prices of petrol and diesel touched a new high on Tuesday with Mumbai paying the maximum among the four metros.

The Opposition today launched a fresh attack on the Bharatiya Janata Party-led NDA government over the continuously rising fuel prices across the country.

Internal factors: These include rising prices in crude oil, transport costs, and taxes and levies.

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Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has blamed "external" factors for the rise in petrol and diesel prices. Because the price is built up by excessive taxes on petrol and diesel.

With imports becoming costlier because of a free-fall in rupee against the United States dollar, the government believes the current account deficit will overshoot the target and it can not "disturb fiscal maths by cutting excise duty on petrol and diesel", the official, who wished not to be identified, said.

Petroleum prices, which are determined by the cost of crude oil in global markets, may continue to go up as the worldwide markets are under pressure due the USA sanctions on Iran and Saudi Arabia's decision to cut oil production. Current account deficit (CAD) is already widening and an excise duty cut will disturb fiscal deficit (target).

The department said the sustained hikes in fuel prices over the past few months have placed a strain on consumers.

This year, there's South Africa has been hit by record fuel prices.

Pradhan said that the government was planning to put diplomatic pressure. "We can not reduce defence expenditure or interest payments if we decide to cut excise of petrol and diesel", the official explained.

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