Petrol, diesel prices rise as Karnataka elections end

The days of static petrol and diesel prices despite its volatility in global crude rates are over with the Karnataka elections coming to an end on Saturday.

It should be noted that the Oil PSUs, who are responsible for revising rates, had kept it unchanged from April 24, roughly three weeks from now.

As a result of these latest increases, a litre of petrol is now at its most expensive since August 2015, while diesel sits at its highest rate since July of the same year.

The Oil PSUs had themselves absorbed the costs of global spikes in the price of petrol and diesel before they reverted to the process of daily revision in rates on Monday.

Since the hike in crude prices was kept artificially static for 19 days, Indian oil companies are estimated to have lost Rs 500 crore.

Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) chairman Sanjeev Singh said,"the price of petrol and diesel haven't changed from April 24, the step was taken to normalize them".

Diesel prices on 14 May reached Rs66.14 per litre in Delhi, a record high.

Poor and rural households are the biggest losers in the monthly fuel price reviews after Kerosene prices were hiked by Sh1.50 by the Energy Regulatory Commission.

The regulator attributed the marginal increase in this month's prices to the average landed cost of imported refined petroleum products.

Among all South Asian nations, India ranks the highest where retail prices of petrol and diesel are concerned with taxes accounting for half of fuel pump rates. Also, the rupee has weakened to Rs 67 per USA dollar from Rs 66. Oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan, however, has stoutly denied any government role in fuel pricing since the market was freed in October 2014 and the oil companies junked the fortnightly price revision for daily pricing since June 2017. Ltd (HPCL)-introduced dynamic fuel pricing in June, joining countries such as the USA and Australia, where fuel prices change daily depending on global oil price fluctuations.

The price hike now is to compensate for the loss incurred during this period. "The Karnataka election was only an interval". Because of the reduction in excise duty, diesel prices had on October 4, 2017, come down to Rs 56.

The government had between November 2014 and January 2016 raised excise duty on petrol by Rs 11.77 a litre and that on diesel by Rs 13.

Vanessa Coleman