Hardeep Singh Puri, oil import from Russia
Union Petroleum Minister Hardeep Singh Puri. File photo: PTI

Govt will reduce petroleum prices if crude prices remain stable: Puri

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Not committing his government to cut petroleum prices, Union Petroleum Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Saturday (June 10) that oil companies will be in a position to look at the issue of reducing petrol and diesel prices only if the international crude cost remains stable and these firms have a good next quarter.

Puri was, however, non-committal about making an announcement on the issue. “As we go along we will see what can be done,” the minister told a press conference at the BJP headquarters in Delhi when reporters asked questions on petroleum prices and if bringing them down was on the government’s agenda.

He said that state-run oil companies did “okay” in the last quarter. “They have recovered some of their losses. They have been very good corporate citizens. As we go along, we will see what can be done,” he said.

The Narendra Modi-led government has ensured that there is no rise in oil prices since April 2022, Puri said. He noted that the government will ensure that consumers suffer no hardship.

Accusing opposition parties of doing “revadi” politics, the BJP leader said that one may like to give everything for “free”, but then they enter the dangerous territory of freebie politics. The issue of pricing is a dynamic matter, he said, adding that the government has taken several welfare measures in its nine years in office to help people.

Puri said that it is the non-BJP state governments that are most vocal about petroleum prices, even though they sell petrol and diesel at higher prices than BJP governments as they did not reduce VAT. In this context, he referred to neighbouring countries like Pakistan and Sri Lanka without naming them and noted the power crisis they have suffered.

Also read: India’s import of Russian oil scales new high in May

The western neighbour has to cut down on electricity after evening, the minister said. Puri lauded Modi for pursuing policies which kept availability and affordability under control, while pushing sustainability by promoting green energy.

The government is also working to push the country’s refining capacity to 400–450 million metric tons (MMT) from around 252 MMT now, he said. Puri cited various data, including those related to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, also under him, to assert that the government’s policies are sound, forward-looking and well-intentioned. The government has a decisive leadership in Modi who makes them happen, he added.

Taking a swipe at former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan for forecasting that India may not grow at a faster rate than 5-5.5 per cent, Puri wondered if this is what he wished and said he should have at least acknowledged his mistake after India clocked 7.2 per cent growth in the last fiscal.

Referring to him as “an eminent economist who has turned to politics”, the minister called critics like Rajan “prophets of doom”.

He cited growth in the infrastructure sector to mock Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for his jibe at the government that it is always looking into the rear view mirror to blame others. “His eyesight should be checked. He may be wearing wrong glasses,” the minister said, noting that the Indian economy has risen to the fifth position globally from 10 under the UPA government.

Hitting out at the former Congress president, Puri said that whenever he goes abroad, he remembers minorities and then he mentioned the 1983 Nellie massacre of Muslims and the 1984 killings of Sikhs, which happened when the Congress was in power.

Lauding PM Modi, he said the government is characterised by “niti, niyat and neta” (policies, intentions and leader) as he has led from the front on every issue.

(With agency inputs)

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