PATNA: People have started losing hope of any respite from the skyrocketing fuel prices, which touch a new high every day. Petrol was Rs83.70 per litre and diesel at Rs73.83 per litre in Patna on Monday. Bihar Petroleum Dealers Association (BPDA) office-bearers claim the prices will continue to go north till the international crude oil prices remain high.
“The petrol and diesel prices in any state is the sum of excise duty, transportation of oil and the commission pocketed by dealers on which VAT is applied. While the excise duty is collected by the central government, VAT goes to the state government’s revenue. In Bihar, VAT on petrol is approximately 24% and it is 19% on diesel,” BPDA president Prabhat Kumar Sinha told this newspaper.
“VAT is directly reflected in the invoice received by the consumer. But apart from VAT, Bihar government also imposes pollution cess with surcharge tax, which is not mentioned anywhere directly. This tax is received under State Specific Cost (SSC) and varies from state to state. Some two years ago, this SSC was 10%, but is now around 20%. It is one of the factors behind high prices in Bihar,” he explained.
“Last year in June, oil companies dumped the decade-old practice of revising rates on every 15 days and, instead, adopted a dynamic daily price revision to instantly reflect changes in cost across the country,” Sinha said and wondered how prices remained unchanged for six consecutive days from May 11 to 17 during the Karnataka assembly election. “It’s a complex mechanism by the oil companies. Like, why prices increase on every Saturday and Sunday when there is no movement in crude oil prices in the international market? Whenever asked, the oil companies and the petroleum ministry never answer such queries.”
Sinha further said, “We have come to know that the government will not reduce excise duty and state taxes because the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas and oil companies are expecting a steep fall in international crude oil prices in near future. That will automatically bring the prices down in domestic market.”
Diesel price in Patna on Monday increased by 15 paise per litre and petrol was dearer by 11 paise per litre. Petroleum prices vary in every state due to the differences in levies imposed by the particular government. Petroleum prices in Delhi, Kolkata, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh are comparatively cheaper than in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and in Bihar.
“If the petrol prices continue to follow this upward trend, I will soon be cycling to the college,” said Tripti Verma, a student of Patna Women’s College.
Another commuter, Abhilash Anand, said, “A middle-class man cannot survive for long under this government. Not only petrol and diesel, but prices of every commodity have increased so much that it’s becoming difficult for us to manage. I wonder if the prices would cross Rs90 someday soon and I will be cursing myself for owning a motorcycle.”