Business & Economy

Indian opposition steps up protests against rising fuel prices

New Delhi, Mar 2 (efe-epa).- Indian opposition parties on Tuesday held nationwide protests against rising fuel prices in the country, where retail rates of petrol, diesel and cooking gas have reached unprecedented levels due to the rise in global oil prices and heavy taxation by the government.

In capital New Delhi, dozens of protesters of the main opposition Indian National Congress party gathered outside the headquarters of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party to protest the rising living and transport costs. The protest was held as part of demonstrations across the country organized by the party.

“We laid seize to the BJP headquarters today under the leadership of Delhi INC President Anil Chaudhary. During this (….) we also courted arrest,” the Delhi state Congress tweeted.

Petrol prices in the capital were raised 16 times during the month of February and stood at an all-time high of 91.17 rupees ($1.25) per liter as of Tuesday, while diesel prices stood at 81.47 rupees per liter, less than a rupee lower than the record price registered in July 2020.

Similarly, prices of Liquid Petroleum Gas, one of the main kitchen fuels in the country, were raised for the fourth time in a month on Monday to 819 rupees (around $11) per cylinder, with a cylinder containing 14.2 kg gas.

International Brent crude prices have risen by over 18 percent in February, mainly due to supply disruptions in the United States and a rapid surge in demand after the launch of Covid-19 vaccinations worldwide.

However, the opposition has highlighted the fact that government taxes account for nearly 60 percent of the retail price of petrol and diesel in the country, which is the third largest consumer of crude oil worldwide.

After the Covid-19 pandemic paralyzed economic activity and the Indian economy slipped into its worst recession on record, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has twice raised taxes on petrol and diesel within the past year in an attempt to increase falling tax revenues.

Under pressure over the rising living costs even as the country heads to regional elections in 5 provinces over the next two months, Modi last week blamed previous governments for the burden on citizens, saying his predecessors had not paid attention to reducing India’s dependents on energy imports.

“I do not want to criticize anyone but I want to say (that) had we focused on this subject much earlier, our middle-class would not be burdened,” he said. EFE-EPA

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