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Centre, states must talk to bring down retail fuel price: FM Nirmala Sitharaman – Moneycontrol

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, on February 20, called the fuel price hike a “vexatious issue”, which required dialogue between the Centre and the states to relieve the consumers.

“It’s a vexatious issue in which no answer except for fall in fuel price will convince anyone,” Sitharaman said, adding that her explanation behind the hike was likely to be construed by critics as an attempt to shift blame.

The finance minister pointed out that both the Centre and the states had been generating revenue through retail sale of petrol and diesel.

“It is also a fact that (global) crude rate has been recovering from November,” she added.

The OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) is also likely to cut output, “further aggravating the stress on price”,” Sitharaman said.

“All this points towards the need for the Centre and states to talk to bring down retail fuel price at a reasonable level for consumers,” she added.

Also read: 5 things to know about the ‘out of control’ fuel price rise in India

On the excise duty levied by the Centre on fuel, Sitharaman said there was ‘no guarantee’ that, if the central government forwent its share, the states would not fill the space.

On being asked whether bringing petrol and diesel under the GST regime may provide relief to the consumers, Sitharaman said it could not be a solution. However, the move would require rigorous discussion between the Centre and the states, she added.

If implemented, there would be a “single fuel rate in all parts of the country”, Sitharaman pointed out.

Sitharaman’s remarks come in the backdrop of petrol prices crossing Rs 100-mark in parts of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. In Delhi, the price has crossed Rs 90, and in Mumbai, the per litre cost has reached Rs 97. The rate of diesel surged to Rs 80.97 and Rs 87.67 in Delhi and Mumbai, respectively.