Govt has passed on 50% of crude price dip to the people: Pradhan
With the Opposition in Rajya Sabha accusing the government of “appropriating” and “not passing” the benefit of fall in international crude oil prices to consumers, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan insisted that the government was not hiding anything and asked if it was a “crime” to spend that saved money for the public welfare.
Responding to questions, he said “we have returned 50 per cent of fall in international crude oil prices to consumers while we have kept the remaining 50 per cent in government treasury and invested in other sectors like social sector.”
“Government has not consumed everything. We have not hidden anything. To have a balanced fiscal strategy, we have invested the money saved in farm sector, infrastructure sector and the health sector,” he said and asked if it was a “crime” to spend the money thus saved for the benefit of the people in a welfare state. He also said that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his budget speech has also said that the fall in international crude oil prices has helped the Indian economy.
Pradhan said while the government passed on 49 per cent of the benefits of the fall in global crude prices to consumers, it has given 41 per cent of fall in diesel prices to them.
“We have saved some money. This commodity is very volatile ...We have to have a balanced fiscal strategy. Our Prime Minister has made it clear...we have saved some money and reinvested in other social sectors,” he said. The Minister, however, came under attack from the Opposition which accused his government of not passing on the benefits of falling crude prices to the consumers and instead keeping it by raising excise duties on both petrol and diesel.
Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M) said the benefits of the fall in the global crude prices has not been onpassed to the people. While tax on petrol has been raised from Rs 9 to Rs 21, that on diesel from Rs 3 to over Rs 17.
“Instead of passing the benefits, you are collecting more excise. Why has it not been passed by the government and why it has been appropriated by government? The difference that has to be passed on to the consumer is consumed by the government who have collected extra money to the tune of Rs 54,000 crore and that is why your fiscal management happened,” he said accusing the Minister of evading a categorical reply. Pradhan, however, said, the government has “not consumed everything” but invested in the social sector.