Tamil Nadu Congress Committee (TNCC) president B.S. Gnanadesikan has criticised Chief Minister Jayalalithaa for condemning the hike in price of petrol.

In a statement here, he wondered how the Chief Minister who had attributed her decision to raise the electricity tariff to the loss suffered by the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation, refused to accept that the petrol price hike was because of the huge losses suffered by the oil marketing companies (OMCs) because of the highly-subsidised petroleum products.

Mr. Gnandesikan, who conceded that the petrol price hike had hurt the people, especially the two-wheeler and autorickshaw users, pointed out that the import of crude at $ 117 per barrel had been causing huge losses to the oil marketing companies that had to import as much as 80 per cent of the country's total requirement.

There was a vast gap between the procurement price and the selling price of various petroleum products.

The government had to foot a subsidy bill of Rs. 14 per litre and Rs. 500 per cylinder of liquefied petroleum gas. “The OMCs are losing Rs. 8 per litre of petrol.”

“All political leaders in the country are aware that the OMCs have been losing thousands of crores of rupees and the Chief Minister who has hiked the price of milk and power tariff also knows it”, he added.

If the Chief Minister, who had been pillorying the Central government every day through her statements, were to reduce the value added tax, the public would not suffer much.

And that would obviate any necessity for agitations as well, the TNCC chief contended.

Acknowledging that the price hike had been resorted to by the Central government “only because it has become inevitable,” he appealed to both the Central and the State governments to devise ways and means to reduce the price of petrol.

Besides, he wanted the oil companies to initiate immediate action to avert fuel scarcity in Chennai.

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