Millennium Post

How empty is my LPG cylinder

The government’s relentless battering of the middle and lower classes continue as food fuel continues to become even more expensive. Just after the government managed to cap the number of subsidised LPG cylinders to six her year per consumer and hiked the price of unsubsidised LPG cylinders to a whopping Rs 877 and above, double than the current price, it has also hiked Rs 11 for regular subsidised LPG cylinders  as it hiked the dealer’s commission. We are looking at a serious possibility that the rates between the subsidised and those that the ‘market’ determines will only thin down and the government will happily discontinue with subsidised cylinders. But the real problem is much bigger than the sum of Rs 11. The current UPA government is clearly in no mood to lend a year to the swelling voice of dissent and aggrieved tension that is currently gathering storm across the nation. It is one thing to rationalise union spending on subsidised petroleum products at the cost of risking fiscal health and it is another thing to pile everything on the consumers to pay for. Especially fuel and petroleum products and related products are not consumer products. They are utility products. Similarly the government is keen on monetising the electricity sector. All this means lending ear to only market concerns rather than what then people want.

One wonders exactly how one is supposed to define a market which goes contrary to public welfare. Also, is a government’s job only to safeguard the market? The current UPA government has no interest in segregating the economy from the market and tends to confuse, not unintentionally, one for the other. This gives it the advantage of the ignorant, the corrupt and the nepotistic. Nothing perhaps explains why it is busy providing tax holidays and other benefits to big industries, which is another name for subsidising the use of natural resources, while it seems to be taking a delight in flogging the common man to cough up more money on basic services.  If subsidising has to stop to ensure fiscal health, it should by all means extend to every service and industry. And the government cannot pretend that all this is because the market demands so because the market is not, emphatically not, outside the human and the social. The market cannot have a dictum that rides over every economic policy.  It is the people who should be at the centre of economic policy and not the market. This UPA or any government globally that services only the market seriously risks compounding the basic interest of its country and people.
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