The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has issued the following statement:
Oppose The Steep Hike In Petroleum Products
The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) strongly opposes the hike in the prices of petroleum products announced by the UPA government. Surprisingly, this hike comes when the international crude oil prices have fallen from over $ 56 per barrel to $ 49 during the course of last week.
The CPI(M) has been consistently urging the government to meet the hike in the international oil prices by reducing the customs and excise duties on petroleum products currently being levied. The decision to dismantle the administrative price mechanism (APM) was accompanied by the assurance that the duties on all subsidised petroleum products would be reduced to zero per cent while the rest would be between zero to 5 per cent. This has not been done. If these were done, there would not have been any need for increasing the prices.
Further, due to the dismantling of the APM, the profits after tax of oil companies have soared. (IOC has gone up from Rs. 2884 crore in 2001-2002 to Rs. 7004 crore in 2003-2004, for HPCL from Rs. 787 crore to Rs. 1903 crore, for BPCL from Rs. 849 crore to Rs. 1694 crore.) A major private refinery has also made huge profits with the increase in international oil prices. Instead of putting further burden on the common people, the impact of international price hike should have been absorbed by these companies.
Not raising the price of kerosene is not a big concession since this is not imported. The hike in the LPG cylinder price by Rs. 20 alongwith a monthly increase of Rs. 5 will badly affect the living standards of millions of consumers. The hike in the diesel prices at the rate of Rs. 2.12 per litre, apart from directly burdening the common man, would also have a cascading effect contributing to the inflation spiral.
The UPA government should reconsider these price hikes. The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) calls upon all its units to organise protests against this unjustified hike in prices of petroleum products.