Fight for the complete withdrawal of this hike!
On May 23, 2012 the UPA government launched a savage attack on the livelihood of our people by increasing the petrol prices by over 7.50 Ps per liter. This is the third hike in petrol prices in the past year, and the steepest ever, the previous steepest being Rs 5/- a litre. It came a day after the end of the Budget Session of parliament, once again revealing the hollowness of parliament as such blatant attacks on peoples livelihood are timed and carried out when parliament is not in session, as executive decisions, on which parliament has no say.
The rise in petrol prices is a direct attack on the crores of working people who depend on personal vehicles for transportation to and from work. As always the people are being told that there is no recourse but to tighten our belts! However, even before the hike, the prices of essential food items were very high and the majority of working families had been cutting back on their food purchases, trying to make do with much less than what is required. Working people are being attacked on all sides with increasing costs of education, health care, electricity, water, public transport, and so on. This latest hike is yet another cruel blow to their well-being.
The government has already prepared ground for a major hike in price of gas and diesel. There is continuous discussion of “deregulating” diesel prices, and reducing the “subsidy” on cooking gas. It is clear further attacks on the livelihood of people are being planned.
The steep rise in petrol price has come when the monopoly bourgeoisie and the global rating agencies have been incessantly demanding that the Manmohan Singh Government take “bold” steps to step up the reforms process and show it is not hit by “policy paralysis”. They have demanded vigorous action in the areas of land acquisition, mining, cutting down of “subsidies”, finance and governance issues. It is no coincidence that as soon as the price hike was announced, while the masses of working people were aghast and expressed their opposition to this attack in no uncertain terms, the stock markets got a temporary boost. It seems that this was caused by the rumour that government would deregulate the diesel prices soon.
Petroleum Minister Jaipal Reddy has said “raising fuel prices is crucial if India is to reach its goal of cutting its subsidy burden below 2 percent of gross domestic product from about 2.4 percent in the fiscal year that ended in March. While a fuel price rise would add to inflation, it would also hearten investors disillusioned by the government's inability to push through reforms".
The government is claiming that the latest price hike was forced on them due to the increase of crude oil prices in the international market and the recent depreciation of value of Rupee with respect to US dollar. The reality is that with the recession in Europe, crude oil prices have been falling recently in the international market. The price of petrol has been raised to fulfill the demand of the Oil Marketing Companies, state owned and private, for maximum profits which they make through the export of petroleum products.
The price of petrol in India is much higher than in Pakistan, China, Sri Lanka, US and Canada. Petrol and diesel are the favorite area for the Central Government to extract maximum from the people in the form of taxes. A rough ball-park figure is that over 50% of what the customer pays for a litre of petrol goes into the Central government’s coffer as tax revenue. The amount extracted from our people as taxes on petrol and petroleum products far exceeds the monies spent as so called “subsidy”.
Mazdoor Ekta Lehar condemns the petrol price hike and demands its immediate withdrawal.