One reason for high prices of petrol and diesel is central and state levies. (HT Photo)
One reason for high prices of petrol and diesel is central and state levies. (HT Photo)

Petrol, diesel prices hiked again, 16th time this month

Domestic fuel retailers raised petrol and diesel rates on Saturday even as international crude oil prices fell on Friday because of firming dollar.
By Rajeev Jayaswal
PUBLISHED ON FEB 27, 2021 02:45 PM IST

Oil companies on Saturday raised petrol prices by 24 paise per litre and diesel by 15 paise a litre, making the two fuels costlier by 4.87 per litre and 4.99 in just one month.

With the 16th price hike in the current month, petrol is being sold at record 91.17 per litre in Delhi on Saturday and diesel at 81.47 a litre, less than 50 paise away from touching an all-time high. Diesel was sold at record 81.94 per litre on July 30, 2020 in Delhi.

Domestic fuel retailers raised petrol and diesel rates on Saturday even as international crude oil prices fell on Friday because of firming dollar. Benchmark Brent crude on Friday closed at $66.13 per barrel, down by 1.12%. However, Brent crude surged by over 18% in February on supply disruptions in the US and rapid demand recovery with the launch of Covid-19 vaccination programmes.

According to the latest data released on Friday, the Indian economy has come out of the contraction zone after the ease in lockdown restrictions and resumption of economic activities. India’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew at 0.4% on a year-on-year basis in the third quarter ending December 2020, after the economy suffered an annual contraction of 24.4% and 7.3% successively in the two preceding quarters because of a 68-day hard lockdown since March 25, 2020 to contain the spread of Covid-19.

“Petrol and diesel are deregulated fuels. Public sector oil marketing companies (OMCs) take decisions on pricing of petrol and diesel in line with international prices of petrol and diesel, and not with international crude price,” an oil ministry official said requesting anonymity. The government had deregulated pricing of petrol on June 26, 2010 and diesel on October 19, 2014.

State-run OMCs on June 16, 2017 implemented daily revision of petrol and diesel rates in the entire country. India’s fuel retail market is dominated by three state-run OMCs – Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL) with almost 90% market-share.

Two executives working in state-run oil companies said retail prices of petrol and diesel are rising because of supply squeeze by producers’ cartel and high taxes on the two fuels by the Centre and states. The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies (Opec+) on 12 April last year announced an unprecedented 9.7 million barrel per day cut in oil output, a 10th of the global output, from May 1, 2020, but did not adhere to the planned restoration of the supply reduction.

The other reason for high prices of petrol and diesel is central and state levies. According to IOC, while the basic price of petrol is 31.82 per litre in Delhi, total levies on every litre of the fuel is 53.51 (central excise of 32.90 per litre and value-added tax of 20.61 a litre). Similarly, basic rate of diesel in Delhi is 33.46 per litre, but total tax on it is 43.48 per litre (central excise of 31.80 per litre and value-added tax of 11.68 a litre). Petrol and diesel rates vary across the country because of different value-added tax (VAT) and local levies.

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