Petrol, diesel prices hit fresh record highs but government rules out excise duty cut

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Petrol in the national capital now costs Rs 73.95 a litre and diesel is priced at Rs 64.69.

New Delhi: Petrol price on Tuesday again hit fresh 4-year high of Rs 73.95 a litre while diesel rates touched an all-time high of Rs 64.82 in the national capital.

The hike in fuel prices have again stoked fresh demands for the government to cut excise tax rates. However, the government has ruled out any immediate reduction in excise duty to cushion relentless rise in international oil prices that have sent retail diesel rates in India to record high and petrol to four-year high. Asked if a second round of excise duty cut was in offing, Finance Secretary Hasmukh Adhia told PTI, “Not as of now. Whenever we review it, we will let you know”.

State-owned oil firms, which have been since June last year revising auto fuel prices daily, today raised petrol prices by 12 paise and diesel rates by 13 paise per litre each in Delhi, as per an Indian Oil price notification.

Petrol in the national capital now costs Rs 73.95 a litre, the highest since September 14, 2014 when rates had hit Rs 76.06. Diesel price at Rs 64.69 is the highest ever, with previous high of Rs 64.82 being on February 7, 2018.

On Monday Petrol in the national capital was at Rs 73.83 while diesel prices were at Rs 64.69.

Government had cut excise duty by Rs 2 per litre in October 2017. At that time, petrol price had reached Rs 70.88 per litre in Delhi and diesel Rs. 59.14. However, after the reduction in excise duty, diesel prices had on October 4, 2017 come down to Rs 56.89 per litre and petrol to Rs 68.38 per litre. The October 2017 excise duty cut cost the government Rs 26,000 crore in annual revenue and about Rs 13,000 crore during the remaining part of the current fiscal year.

However, a global rally in crude prices pushed domestic fuel prices far higher than those levels. Since January oil has risen about 4 percent, on track for the longest stretch of quarterly gains since late 2010, a Reuters report has said.

Earlier in the day on Monday, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said the government is keeping a close eye on international prices but said there is no going back on free market pricing.

He said consumers will benefit if petrol and diesel are brought under Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime at the earliest. Several reports have stated that if fuel prices are brought under GST then they could cost less than Rs 40.