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NEW DELHI: Raising its pitch against the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government for the price rise and the latest round of petrol price hike, the Bharatiya Janata Party on Sunday demanded concrete action within a month on the price front and a rollback of the petrol price increase.
Targeting the economist in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar termed the food and petrol price hikes “a conspiracy of the Congress against aam aadmi…the double dose in one month is totally unjustified and is nothing but loot of the common man.”
No cohesive policy
Mr. Javadekar said at a time when the world was witnessing a stable price regime and food prices were going down in many countries, India was facing high price regime. This was because the UPA government lacked any cohesive policy.
The UPA Ministers had the audacity to offer reasons for the price rise instead of accepting the failure on account of policies. For instance, Mr. Javadekar said, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said he was responsible for prices of only five items, while Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi stated that coalition politics was the reason behind the price rise.
Instead of providing relief to people, who were reeling under a general price rise of over 10 per cent in the wholesale price index and 18 per cent in food prices, the government chose to add to their burden with a double dose of petrol price hike — Rs. 5.50 a litre in one month.
Under the guise of decontrol, a cartel of oil companies was raising the prices under the aegis of the government. The Centre's argument that oil companies were losing on account of a rise in international prices was “wrong and bogus.”
“Underrecoveries is a notional phenomenon and oil companies are actually making profits and paying dividends. The government had increased prices substantially when the international prices were well above $120 a barrel, while it was now $ 90 a barrel,” he said.
The government did not have a policy and that the baseline prices were faulty. Moves were on to decontrol diesel prices as recommended by the Kirti Parikh committee. The government expected consumers to pay for the inefficiencies of oil companies that were over-staffed and whose procurement and transaction costs were high. The government did not accept the suggestion of having a Price Stabilisation Fund, which can be used in the event of turbulent international prices. It was collecting a large share of revenue from the petroleum sector, he said.
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