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Left denies pact with govt on fuel price hike

Senior Left leaders deny reports that claim Union Petroleum Minister convinced them to allow an increase, report Sutirtho Patranobis and Shekhar Iyer.

india Updated: Jan 15, 2008 03:26 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis and Shekhar Iyer
Sutirtho Patranobis and Shekhar Iyer
Hindustan Times

The Left parties as well as the BJP have strongly opposed a hike in fuel prices.

Senior Left leaders denied reports that claim Union Petroleum Minister Murli Deora had convinced them to allow an increase.

The CPM issued a statement denying the government had consulted the Left and got consent. CPM politburo member Sitaram Yechury — who with CPI MP Gurudas Das Gupta was supposed to have met Deora — told HT that no such decision was taken.

“The last time I met Deora was two weeks ago and told him there was no question of increasing fuel prices without removing ad valorem surcharges,” Yechury said from Kolkata.

He said the Finance Ministry had approximately earned Rs 40,000 crore through tax revenue due to the increase in the international price of oil. “If that bonanza was returned to oil companies, the necessity of increasing prices would not arise.

“The minister never talked to us. To tackle the increase in international prices, reduce taxation on oil companies and cut down on conspicuous consumption,” said Das Gupta. “I am also writing to the PM on the issue.”

The BJP has also opposed any increase in fuel prices.

“The Centre must adopt the policy of revenue neutralisation as suggested by the expenditure finance commission before effecting a fuel price hike,” BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said.

According to him, the government’s revenue earnings from the petroleum sector this year was about Rs 1,40,000 crore.

“The government should not profit more from an escalation of prices in the international market. People are being looted. The government is now selling the product worth Rs 25 at Rs 50,” he alleged.