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Petrol Prices Hiked Again – Why the prices of Fuel are Rising in India?

Understanding Why the prices of Fuel are Rising in India: The retail petrol prices touched triple digits for the first time in a few areas across the country after the prices were hiked earlier this month. You too might have already noticed your monthly expenditure on fuel is increased.

In this article, we take a look at why the prices of fuel are rising in India. Here, we’ll try to give the reasons why the petrol/diesel prices have increased. Keep Reading to find out.

Why have petrol and diesel prices increased?

When the Union Petroleum and Natural Gas and Steel Minister Dharmendra Pradhan was asked this question he blamed it on the oil-producing countries. When it comes to crude oil India imports over 80% of its crude oil requirement. So any changes in the global prices will directly impact the fuel prices in India.

Pradhan stated that ”There are two main reasons for the fuel price rise. The international market has reduced fuel production and manufacturing countries are producing less fuel to gain more profit. This is making the consumer countries suffer,”. The minister also added that the government has also requested OPEC and OPEC+ countries to increase output.

The oil prices have been on a rise ever since Saudi Arabia along with the rest of the Oil Producing and Exporting Countries (OPEC), its allies the OPEC+ countries and Russia agreed to cut their production by 1 million barrels per day. This caused the oil prices to rise to $63 per barrel – the highest in a year. 

But is this the only reason for the high prices in India? Oil prices in countries around the world have been reduced back to pre covid levels but quite the opposite has taken place in India. Prices in the US, China, and Brazil are 7.5%, 5.5%, and 20.6% lower than they were a year ago. A closer look at the price break up reveals some different answers.

Taxes on Petrol and Diesel

Both the central and the state governments have hiked the central excise duty and sales taxes to increase their revenues. In Delhi, the combined state and central taxes are 180% and 141% of the base price of petrol and diesel respectively. Over two-thirds of what we pay as fuel is tax to the government.

who earns from your fuel bill 

The main reasons for the increased taxes were the nationwide lockdown hurting the revenues of the government. In order to make up for this, fuel prices were taxed heavily. Last year the petrol prices were touched nil but this benefit was not passed on to the consumers in order to make up for the losses the government faced in other areas.

The last time any relief was provided was in 2018 when the excise duty was cut by Rs. 1.50 per litre. The crude oil priced however increased to $40 per barrel between June and October, and now have gone past $60.

When the lockdown was imposed the excise duty was increased by Rs 13 per litre on petrol and Rs 16 per litre on diesel. Between April 1 and December 10, petrol prices were revised upward 67 times. Despite the huge increase in prices the Centre has refused to budge and still maintains the same excise duty.  

Value Added Tax (VAT) too has been significantly increased to accommodate the needs of the state governments. After GST the only direct source of revenues that the state governments have is through liquor and fuel. Only a handful of state governments have taken action to control the prices.

Rajasthan reduced (VAT) from 38% to 36%, Assam withdrew the Rs.5 additional tax imposed during the COVID-19 crisis and West Bengal, cut VAT on petrol and diesel by Rs.1. Meghalaya gave the biggest relief by cutting  Rs 7.4 per litre on petrol and Rs 7.1 on diesel.

In Closing

Consumers that directly spend on travel have already been affected due to the high fuel prices. But the concern due to increased fuel prices now extends to other products and services as well. Food inflation has reduced in the last few months but with the transport costs increasing they too may catch the inflationary trend.

Is the government’s position justified in the current scenario? Let us what you think about the increasing fuel prices below. Cheers!  

Why Prices of Petrol and Diesel Increasing in India (2020)

Why Prices of Petrol and Diesel Increasing in India (2020)?

Demystifying increasing prices of Petrol and Diesel in India during Covid19 period: After 67 days of lockdown, the economy finally opened up on June 1st. Since then most of us have been trying to bring our lives together and adapt to the new normal of living with COVID-19. In the midst of threats on our borders and the steady rise of corona cases, petrol and diesel prices have steadily increased in the background for 22 days. These added to the unusual events of 2020, as the diesel prices were higher than petrol.

Today we shed light on the rising petrol and diesel prices. We also try and answer the possible reason for the increase especially when just a few days ago the crude oil prices crashed into the negative territory.

coronavirus petrol diesel price meme

How are petrol and diesel Priced?

Before we look into the causes for the price increase, it is best to figure out the chain that crude oil moves through in order to better understand where the price increase has come from.

How are petrol and diesel Priced?

(Source)

Unlike other oil-rich countries, 80% of the crude oil consumed in India is sourced from other countries. This crude oil faces freight charges until it is transported to Oil Marketing Companies (OMC) which is dominated by public sector enterprises with very few private players. These companies go on to refine the crude oil into finished products.  The public players include IOCL, HPCL, BPCL, MRPL, etc. The ONC companies then charge their cut of profits in addition to the cost incurred by them for refining. The next cut is taken as profits to the dealers in petrol pumps etc. It may be surprising but the portion of the charges mentioned above make up only one-third of the amount paid by the consumers for petrol or diesel. 

The remaining two-thirds portion is made up of the taxes paid to the government. These taxes are levied in the form of excise duty, VAT and Cess charges. The excise duties are charged by the central government whereas VAT and Cess charged on petroleum are charged by the state governments.

Every Rupee that the government increases in taxes on diesel and petrol leads to Rs.14,000 crore of additional revenue to the government per annum. This sheds light as to why the government would target the petrol and diesel prices. In the current scenario, the additional revenues likely to be generated come up to 1.4-1.7 lakh crore rupees.

Reasons for the increase in prices of Petrol and Diesel

— Crude oil price normalizing

One of the major questions we would be having is that since the prices had gone negative, how is it that we are facing an all-time biggest increase in a fortnight. It is important to note that there exist different types of crude oil varying based on the place they are sourced from and the sulfur content present in them. WTI from the US, Brent crude from the UK, and the OPEC basket from the middle east. Of these the most expensive has been the Brent and the OPEC.

Unfortunately for us, these are the ones that India imports. And further depressing news has been that it was WTI crude that went negative and not the Brent and OPEC. At their lowest points in April, the Brent and OPEC were priced at $16 to $20 per barrel.Crude oil price normalizing

(Source: Oilprice.com)

These prices have since then been doubled crossing $40. The Brent and OPEC crossing $40 in recent times have been one of the reasons for the price increase. But this is not a major factor as these prices simply haven’t even touched pre-COVID levels of 2019.

— Setting off losses

As seen above despite Brent and OPEC being comparatively expensive, their global prices had reduced significantly in the months of April-May. This further raises questions as to why the prices of petrol and diesel were not reduced to match the global fall. The answer to these questions lies in the fact that the govt had chosen not to transfer the benefits to the consumers but instead use it to set off other losses.

These losses were primarily because of the COVID-19 environment. It had forced the government to move into a lockdown freezing most of the revenue channels for the govt. Which also included income from petrol and diesel as the consumption was dropped to only 30%. 

Union petroleum minister - Dharmendra Pradhan

Union petroleum minister – Dharmendra Pradhan

In this case, the government decided not to reduce the prices to match the crude oil price. But instead, they chose to maintain price levels to make up for the fall in demand for petrol and diesel and also fall in revenue from other sectors. This carried on till the lockdown was lifted at which point the crude oil prices kept increasing globally. 

The fall in demand to only 30% of consumption also caused the OMCs to sell every liter at a loss as the profit made was not able to cover the cost incurred. The OMCs were forced to further increase their margins in the’ Lockdown-Unlock’ period to cover the losses they operated on during the lockdown which led to a 22-day steady increase till the prices touched levels where they were profitable.

— INR to Dollar exchange rate

The exchange rates also impact the prices of petrol and dollar as the crude oil is traded only in exchange for the dollar. The COVID-19 pandemic hammered the already weakened rupee. The rupee currently hovers at over Rs. 75 for a dollar. The rupee traded at Rs.70 for one dollar in December 2019.

Closing Thoughts

rahul gandhi petrol diesel price

The increase in the prices of petrol and diesel-only would kick off the inflation domino effect on other products as well. The Jet Fuel too has already begun to see its share of the inflation. And we already know that ATF being the major expenses for an airline company will further be transferred to the consumer fares. Other products too face inflation in prices as the cost of freight and transportation would increase too. The already ailing Automobile industry has already started to feel the burn as the Demand for diesel vehicles has already dampened.

Needless to say, the diesel and petrol price increase is not welcome considering the state of the economy where the people are already facing job losses, pay cuts, and fear public transport in COVID-19 times