Sonia Gandhi urges Centre to roll back the fuel price hike

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on June 16, 2020 Published on June 16, 2020

A file photo of Congress President Sonia Gandhi   -  PTI

In a letter to PM Narendra Modi, Sonia Gandhi said that the government is doing nothing short of ‘profiteering off its people’.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi has sent a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding that the prices of petrol and diesel should be reduced in tune with the global crude oil prices. 

She said she is deeply distressed that in these "exceedingly difficult times" of Covid-19 pandemic, the Centre's decision to increase the prices at ten separate occasions is "wholly insensitive." "Your Government is seeking to earn an additional revenue of nearly ₹2,60,000 crore by these ill-advised hikes in excise duty and increases in the petrol of diesel. As it is, people across the board are facing unimaginable hardships what to say of widespread fear and insecurity. These price increases are saddling our people with an additional burden of this enormous magnitude that is neither justified nor appropriate. It is the duty and responsibility of the government to alleviate suffering, not put the people to still greater hardship," she said in the letter.

The UPA Chairperson added that she sees no logic in why the government would even consider such a price increase at a time when the economic impact of Covid-19 is depriving millions of jobs and livelihood, devastating business big and small, rapidly eroding the income of the middle class, even as farmers are struggling to sow the crop for the Kharif season. "Given that the international price of crude oil has fallen by approximate nine per cent over the last week (coming after a collapse of crude oil prices over the last few months), the Government is doing nothing short of profiteering off its people – when they are down and out," the Congress president said.

She said the Centre's revenues have been massively enriched by the cumulative increase in excise duty on petrol and diesel on twelve different occasions (by an additional ₹23.78 per litre on petrol and ₹28.37 on diesel). "This translates into a 258 per cent increase in excise on petrol and 820 percent hike in excise duty on diesel yielding in these six years a staggering ₹ 18,00,000 crore from excise collection on petrol and diesel alone. If ever there was ever a time to deploy these resources in the service of the people, it is now," Gandhi added, and urged the Centre to roll back these increases and pass on the benefit of low oil prices directly to the citizens of this country.

"If you wish for them to be ‘self-reliant’ then do not place financial fetters on their ability to move forward. And I am once again obliged to repeat what I have said before: please use the government’s resources to put money directly into the hands of those who need it in this time of severe hardship," the letter said. 

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Published on June 16, 2020
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