Petrol, diesel prices touch record high: 10 points

Fuel prices hiked after 19 days as Karnataka elections get over

Heavy dependence on imports, geopolitical uncertainties and cartelization by OPEC nations are some of the reasons why crude oil prices and consequently fuel prices have been on an upward swing in recent months. Indian OMCs disposed of the daily revision in fuel prices that was being carried out from June 2017. The petrol figures for Chennai and Kolkata stand at Rs 77.77 and Rs 77.65 per litre respectively, while diesel costs Rs 70.02 and Rs 68.90 per litre respectively. These prices remained intact till May 13, 2018. However, it didn't do so by reducing its own revenue stream by cutting excise duties, but by squeezing the margins of state-owned oil companies.

"As soon as Karnataka election is over, government has chose to increase petrol and diesel prices". Prices have since then moved more or less in tandem with global rates barring a few exceptions like the period before a crucial election.

It is widely believed in industry circles that with Karnataka assembly polls over, OMCS may hedge for a bigger retail price hike this time, to the tune of Rs 1.5 to Rs 2 per litre over two weeks. Consequently, any rise in global crude prices affects rates in India nearly immediately.

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Kerosene, relied upon by low income homes for lighting and powering cooking stoves, has increased the most by Sh1.50 to Sh78.22 in the city, according to the new monthly prices set by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC). The report added that OMC stocks had crashed 6-7 per cent intra-day in April, when the government had publicly asked them to absorb losses. Ltd (IOCL), Bharat Petroleum Corp. Value-buying has since slowly pushed up prices.

Chairman Sanjiv Singh last week said that the state-owned firms were "temporarily moderating" prices to avoid sharp spikes and panic among consumers. This despite the benchmark global rate for petrol going up from $78.84 per barrel, which was used for raising the price to Rs 74.63 a litre on April 24, to $82.98 now, according to sources privy to fuel pricing methodology. Also, the rupee has weakened to Rs 67 per USA dollar from Rs 66.62, making imports costlier. Some economists and market experts had also levelled allegations against this practice by saying that it will allow the central and state governments to dodge any questions about the frequent and unrelenting price hike of petroleum products as it will result in minimal transparency and accountability.

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