Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Murli Deora on Wednesday urged the Opposition and the people to understand the government's compulsion for increasing fuel prices.
“The increase translates to less than Re.1 a day on domestic LPG and 26-27 paise a day on kerosene,” he said, terming the claims being made by the Opposition parties as “exaggeration.”
“We have kept the burden on the poor minimal. The talk of the increase breaking the back of the poor and the common man is nothing but an exaggeration,” he told journalists here.
As for the strike called by political parties, Mr. Deora said: “The Opposition is being a hypocrite in its criticism…no benefit will accrue from this kind of adventurism. We want the people and the Opposition parties to understand the compulsions under which we took this decision and what impact it will have on the people.”
He pointed out that in the last six years of its rule at the Centre, the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance did not increase kerosene price, though the international crude oil price more than doubled, from $36 a barrel in May 2004 to $78.
“We have raised kerosene price by Rs. 3 a litre against the required increase of Rs.18.07. Even after last week's increase, kerosene is Rs.15.07 a litre below cost and LPG is under-priced at Rs. 226.90 a cylinder. We have ensured that the poor are not unnecessarily burdened. We will continue to subsidise LPG and kerosene, which are the common man's cooking fuels,” he said.
Mr. Deora said the BJP-led NDA government raised the price of PDS kerosene from Rs. 2.52 a litre in January 1998 to Rs. 9 in March 2002.
This increase amounted to 258 per cent, though the crude oil price rose by just 147 per cent during the period.
It freed petrol and diesel prices from government control in April 2002, with the rates being revised twice a month based on the international prices.