"The government can not interfere in the day-to-day affairs of oil marketing companies", Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said today. "It is time that he passes of the benefit of 50 per cent reduction in global prices of crude oil to the common person and government stops looting people to fill up its coffers", he added.
Terming the spike as temporary, Pradhan said the drop in prices for over a fortnight after the daily price revision was introduced has been ignored and only "temporary" phenomenon of rising trend is being highlighted.
The Petroleum Minister said that while hurricanes Irma and Harvey had hit refinery production in Texas, USA, by as much as 13%, he expected global crude prices to ease in the near future.
He added that the price fluctuation happens due to the variation in worldwide crude oil price, and there is complete transparency in fixing the price of petrol and diesel. "The government can not change fuel pricing on a knee-jerk basis", Pradhan added.
The statement comes amid reports that government has no plans to lower the excise duty on fuel, and so consumers will end up paying higher taxes for petrol and diesel.
Since 2014, the excise duty on petrol and diesel was hiked by Rs 12 and Rs 13.47 per litre, a hike of 226% and 486% respectively over the May 2014 level.
The Indian basket of imported crude oils gained almost $3.50 a barrel during last week even as petrol prices in the country touched their highest levels since Prime Minister Narendra Modi assumed office three years ago, official data showed on Monday. Cost of diesel has increased 20% during this period to $68.32 a barrel. Albeit, of late, the rise in the retail fuel prices was seen due the impact of hurricanes Harvey and Irma on the global fuel markets, Dharmendra Pradhan said, adding that the situation is likely to ease out in the coming days.
Pradhan said that the prices of petrol and diesel would stabilise if brought under the Goods and Services Tax regime.
The two hurricanes to have hit the American shores in succession have hit the global refining capacity by as much as 13%, leading to a rise in the retail fuel prices in the worldwide markets, Dharmendra Pradhan said.
Petrol and diesel prices have crept up slowly over the last three months, but without inviting the kind of anger and criticism usually directed at such fuel price hikes.
Higher crude prices has been partly responsible for consumer price inflation accelerating at the fastest pace since March to 3.36% from a year earlier.