On a day when petrol crossed the Rs 100 mark, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said the middle-class would not have been burdened if the previous governments had focussed on reducing India’s energy import dependence.
Without referring to the relentless increase in retail fuel prices, which are linked to international rates, he said India imported over 85 per cent of its oil needs in the 2019-20 financial year and 53 per cent of its gas requirement.
“Can a diverse and talented nation like ours be so energy import dependent?” he asked, addressing an online event to inaugurate oil and gas projects in poll-bound Tamil Nadu.
“I do not want to criticise anyone but I want to say (that) had we focused on this subject much earlier, our middle-class would not be burdened,” he said.
Price of petrol crossed the Rs 100 per litre mark in Rajasthan after fuel rates were hiked for the ninth day in a row. Since India imports the majority of its oil needs, retail rates are benchmarked to international prices, which have spiralled in recent weeks.
Opposition parties including Congress have criticised the price hikes, blaming it on the Modi government raising taxes to scoop out the benefit that arose from international oil rates plunging to a two-decade low in April/May last year. While global rates have rebounded with pick up in demand, the government has not restored the taxes, which are at a record high.
Central and state taxes make up for 60 per cent of the retail selling price of petrol and over 54 per cent of diesel.