Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Saturday, February 20, that the issue of soaring petrol and diesel prices is a "dharm sankat" (divine predicament) and "vexatious" concern, and that the Centre and states need to talk to bring down the fuel prices "at a reasonable level for consumers."
Centre and state taxes constitute 60 per cent of the retail selling price of petrol and over 54 per cent of diesel.
"It's a vexatious issue in which no answer except for fall in fuel price will convince anyone. Both Centre and State should talk to bring down retail fuel price at a reasonable level for consumers...," FM Sitharaman told reporters.
Fuel prices continued their wild run with petrol and diesel rates being hiked for the 12th consecutive day on Saturday across the country.
In Mumbai, petrol neared Rs 100. As of February 20, the cost of one litre of petrol has reached Rs 97 per litre after an increase of 38 paise on Saturday. On the other hand, diesel has jumped to Rs 88.06 per litre in the city. In Delhi, petrol price was increased by 39 paise per litre, while diesel costs 37 paise a litre.
Following the increase, petrol climbed to Rs 90.58 per litre and diesel has been hiked to Rs 80.97 per litre in the national capital. It is for the first time ever that petrol has crossed Rs 90 and diesel Rs 80-mark in Delhi.
In February, petrol prices have gone up by Rs 4.29 per litre and diesel by Rs 4.31 per litre in Delhi so far. Prices of the two fuels have increased around 24 times this year, with petrol and diesel rates hiked by Rs 6.87 and Rs 7.1 per litre respectively in 2021.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held previous governments responsible for not reducing India's import dependence. He said the middle-class would not have been burdened if the previous governments had worked to reduce the country's energy import dependence.
PM Modi, without mentioning the constantly increasing retail fuel prices which are linked to international rates, said India imported over 85 per cent of its oil needs in the 2019-20 financial year and nearly 53 per cent of its gas requirement.
Opposition parties, including Congress, have criticised the price hikes, blaming the Centre for it.