As the rising prices of fuel continue to burn holes in the pockets of consumers, Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has pinned the blame on India’s high dependency on crude imports and the oil bonds issued by the UPA government.
"There has been a jump in crude oil prices in the international market. One of the main reasons behind the rise in fuel prices in India is that we have to import 80 percent of the oil we consume," Pradhan said on Wednesday.
Attacking the previous UPA government, Pradhan said the Manmohan Singh-led government had left oil bonds worth crores due for repayment due to which, the Centre is being forced to pay both, the interest and its price.
He said, “The Congress before 2014 had left a debt of lakhs of crores of rupees over oil bonds. Due to this reason, the interest and principal have to be paid off by the current government. This is also a big reason for the increase in oil prices.”
In Mumbai, petrol costs Rs 103.89/litre and diesel Rs 95.79/litre. The price of petrol in Delhi is Rs 97.76/litre while diesel costs Rs 88.30/litre in the city.
Petrol and diesel in Kolkata cost Rs 97.63/litre and Rs 91.15/litre, respectively while in Chennai petrol costs Rs 98.88/litre, and diesel Rs 92.89/litre.
Oil bonds are special long-term securities that are issued by the government to oil companies in return of a cash subsidy. Oil companies are paid interest through these bonds, usually over a period of 15-20 years. Oil bonds are issued if the government is in danger of exceeding the fiscal deficit target and decides on delaying the fiscal burden of such a pay-out to future years.
The oil minister last week admitted to the difficulties faced by citizens due to the skyrocketing prices of petrol and diesel. He, however, said that the government is saving for welfare schemes to continue efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.