Fuel prices coming down: Dharmendra Pradhan

Says spike in prices due to 13% decline in crude output after US cyclones

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Fuel prices coming down: Dharmendra Pradhan
Dharmendra Pradhan

Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who has been under fire for rising petrol and diesel prices, said on Saturday that fuel prices have started coming down.

"I had said four to five days ago that petrol and diesel prices will come down before Diwali. In the past three to four days, we have been observing that trend. Once the international markets are stable, domestic fuel prices will also stabilise," Pradhan told the media after inaugurating a Skill Development Institute set up by ONGC in Gandhinagar.

The minister blamed the spike in prices to the 13 per cent decline in crude oil output due to the recent hurricane in the US.

"However, crude prices are now coming down, and this is reflecting in fuel prices," he said.

To a question on whether the Centre would ask states to lower VAT rate on fuels, Pradhan said that this decision has to be taken by individual states.

"Government uses the tax collected to provide good roads, pure drinking water, and other welfare activities. Expenditure on rural development, agriculture, education, and health have tripled in the past three years," he said.

He didn't comment on whether the Centre would lower excise duty on crude.

'No slowdown because of DeMo'

Even as the Centre has gone in a huddle amid concerns over slowing economic growth, Pradhan said that there is no slowdown because of demonetisation.

"There is no effect (on the economy) of demonetisation. There is no economic slowdown because of note ban. If there was a slowdown, the impact would have been visible in January, February, or March. Raising a question about it in September is ridiculous," Pradhan said when asked about the impact of demonetisation on the economy.

Pradhan, who was promoted to a Cabinet rank recently, described demonetisation as a bold step which would "formalise, organise and institutionalise the economy."

About GST, he said that the implementation of the new tax regime was delayed because a consensus was awaited from all states, and it will benefit the economy.

25 crore LPG connections by 2018-end

The government is eyeing 25 crore LPG connections in the country by 2018. Pradhan said that the number of LPG connections in the country was 14 crore when Modi government came to power.

"We have added 8.5 crore connections in the last three years. The target is to touch the 25-crore mark by December 2018," he said.

Later, Pradhan and Chief Minister Vijay Rupani gave away the 3,00,00,000th LPG connection under Ujjwala scheme to a beneficiary in Isanpur Mota village of Gandhinagar. The Centre is targeting 5 crore beneficiaries under the scheme.

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