Centre “Sensitive” Towards Prices Of Petroleum Products: Minister

New Delhi, Aug 18 (PTI): The government is “sensitive” towards the prices of petroleum products and is taking all possible steps to address the issue, Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Wednesday and blamed the Congress for the trend of hike in petrol and diesel prices.
If state governments want they can lower the prices of petrol and diesel, as a state did so recently, he said in a press conference at the Delhi BJP office.

“We are sensitive towards it and are taking possible steps like doing blending of 10 per cent which we are going to raise to 20 per cent. So, we are taking many steps,” Mr Puri said when asked about the rising prices of petroleum products including cooking gas.

The Congress government in 2010 deregulated prices of petrol and diesel, meaning there would be a local impact of international rates, he said.

“The Centre imposes excise tax on petrol and diesel, while states impose VAT on it. We use this excise money to fund schemes like PM Garib Kalyan Yojna under which 80 crore people received free foodgrains, PM Awas Yojna, Ujjwala scheme,” he said.

Mr Puri said that the Congress government, before 2014, issued oil bonds of ₹ 1.34 lakh crore to control prices of petrol and “passed on their problem to us. They emptied the chest. We have to pay ₹ 20,000 crore this year for the oil bonds that have a maturity period of 15 years.”

The minister also hit at the Congress saying the figures on oil bonds presented by it were “flawed” and challenged the party to ask states ruled by it to reduce VAT on petrol and diesel.