Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday slammed the international community for not doing enough to rein in soaring crude oil prices that have fuelled inflation worldwide, pushing millions back into poverty and hunger.
The prime minister, on his way to the G8 summit in Japan, also called for creation of “a forum where (oil) producers and consumers” can meet to overcome the current crisis that threatens to derail the growth of the global economy.
Crude prices have more than doubled in the past year – now hovering around $145 a barrel, and the spike hurts India more than many other countries because this South Asian nation imports three fourth of the crude it needs to keep its economy going.
“Instability and volatility in oil prices are neither in the interest of producers nor is it in the interest of the consumers,” Singh told reporters traveling with him to the meeting of world leaders in the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido.
Unlike in the past, when countries came together to respond to such crises in 1973 and 1979, the international community's response to the problem this time around has been one of “lethargy.”
The surge in crude prices is expected to top the agenda of the three-day G8 meeting that ends on Wednesday. At the summit, Singh said, India will “nudge the international community and institutions to do more to deal with the consequences of high oil prices.”
To begin with, there has to be a credible view on what is causing crude prices to go up, the prime minister said.
“There are people who say that the oil price muddle is directly a result of supply and demand, while there are people who say that it is largely a speculative increase,” he said. “One would like the international financial institutions to pool their wisdom, knowledge and experience to educate the world as to what is the principal cause.”