THE government waited till the budget session of Parliament was over and then announced a steep hike in petrol price. The government wants to make out it has nothing to do with the price hike: It is blaming the oil companies for the rise in price.
The Finance Minister says petrol is a deregulated commodity and hence the fixing of prices is not under its control. If the oil companies and the government too are willing to settle for less profits, there would have been no need for increasing price of petrol.
Following the raise in price, there has been protest all over the country and the loudest protest has come from the middle class. The allies of the Congress – Mamata Banerjee and DMK’s Karunanidhi – have asked for a rollback.
The government could not have been unaware that the hike in fuel price would immediately raise the cost of all essential articles – food items, vegetable and fruits and medicine. As it is, the price is high and is certain that prices of commodities will go up sky high immediately.
A rise in fuel prices will have a huge impact on inflation. Does the government want this to happen? The government is not convincing when it says fuel price increase is a global happening. We should now increase our oil imports from Iran. And then, if the circumstances indicate a change in policy with regard to deregulation, it should not hesitate to do so.
What is surprising is that the Congress party does not seem to be aware of the adverse fall-out following fuel price hike. It is already being blamed for economic mismanagement that has led to steady rise in inflation. It has become unpopular. After the end of Parliament session, Congress leaders said that they have fared well during the last three years in office and that in the next two years there will be sweeping changes: just wait and see is what they said.
And the first thing they did was to increase the price of petrol!