Centre will not regulate fuel prices, says Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan

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Tax on petrol and diesel makes up for around 50 per cent of the total fuel prices.

Earlier in the day, the Congress slammed the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government over spike in petrol, diesel prices and urged the Centre to pass on the benefit of 50 per cent reduction in worldwide prices of crude oil to the common person.

Petrol and diesel prices have risen to their highest in three years in some cities in the country, following a sharp rise in global rates driven by the hurricane-induced shutdown of refining capacity in the US.

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. In the last three years, the petrol price hit its highest at Rs 81.75 per litre in Mumbai on 1 August 2014.

The government is unlikely to let public sector fuel marketing companies to pass on further increments in retail costs of gasoline and diesel to consumers, and may ask the fuel retailers to absorb any such increases if global crude price edges higher, the government official, who did not want to be named, said. Petrol per litre on that day cost Rs 70.30 in Delhi, Rs 73.05 in Kolkata and Rs 72.87 in Chennai. Albeit, of late, the rise in the retail fuel prices was seen due the impact of hurricanes Harvey and Irma on the worldwide fuel markets, Dharmendra Pradhan said, adding that the situation is likely to ease out in the coming days. "The daily price mechanism is transparent and will help consumer in long term", he said.

Pradhan said that the government has no business to interfere in day-to-day operations of oil companies. "It is time that he passes of the benefit of 50 per cent reduction in worldwide prices of crude oil to the common person and government stops looting people to fill up its coffers", he added.

"The government can not change fuel pricing on a knee-jerk basis", Pradhan told reporters here, noting that global crude oil prices had recently gone up as much as 15 per cent owing to production being hit in the USA owing to the impact of multiple hurricanes.

A working Saurav Banerjee from Kolkata said, "In the last six months it was still manageable.But now daily, there has been a price hike and there is no reduction".

The government is under tremendous political pressure as fuel prices are hovering around three years high in some parts of the country despite global crude oil prices almost half of what they were in 2014.

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