New Delhi, Aug 19 : Union Petroleum and Natural Gas minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Wednesday that the government is sensitive towards the prices of petroleum products and it is taking all possible steps to address the issue.
Puri also blamed the previous Congress government’s decisions for the current increase in prices of petroleum products.
Addressing a press conference at the BJP’s Delhi unit office on the third day of ‘Jan Ashirwad Yatra’, Puri said, “We are sensitive towards it (prices of petroleum products) and are taking all the possible steps including blending of ethanol which the government will increase to 20 per cent. We are taking many steps to check the prices. Prices can stabilise only when all the stakeholders take the necessary steps.”
Puri also blamed the previous Congress government for deregulating the prices of petrol and diesel in 2010 and for floating oil bonds.
“In 2010, the Congress government deregulated the prices of petrol and diesel which meant there would be a local impact of international prices,” Puri said.
He further stated that the Congress government had floated oil bonds and passed them to the current government and this year the Union government has paid Rs 20,000 crore as interest on these bonds.
“The Congress government before 2014 issued oil bonds of Rs 1.34 lakh crore to control prices of petrol and passed on their problem to us. They emptied the ‘tijori’ (exchequer). We had to pay Rs 20,000 crore as interest this year for the oil bonds,” the minister said.
Talking about taxes on petroleum products, Puri said, “The Union government imposes excise of Rs 32 while the states impose VAT on percentage which increases with rise in prices. The Union government uses this excise money to fund schemes like PM Garib Kalyan Yojna under which 80 crore people received free foodgrains, PM Awas Yojna, Ujjwala scheme and other welfare schemes.”
He also mentioned that prices in the international market have increased from $19 per barrel in April 2020 to $75 per barrel on the day he took over as the Petroleum Minister last month.
Referring to the Tamil Nadu government’s recent decision to reduce auto fuel prices, Puri said, “The state governments can lower the prices of petrol and diesel, as one state has done so recently. Others can also do the same.”