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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Fuel price hike rollback not in the offing: Revenue secy

Revenue secretary Sunil Mitra today ruled out any rollback of duty hike on petroleum products amid increasing pressure from UPA allies and the opposition.

"No, what roll back?" Mitra said when asked whether there would be any rollback of excise and custom duty on petroleum products.

As part of the Budget proposals of 2010-11,the government hiked customs duty on petrol and diesel to 7.5 per cent from 2.5 per cent while excise duty was raised by Re one on non-branded (normal) petrol and diesel.

Beginning February 27, petrol prices rose by Rs 2.67 a litre and diesel by Rs 2.58 per litre in Delhi.

Petrol, in Delhi currently costs Rs 47.43 a litre and diesel Rs 35.47 per litre. While acknowledging that the tax proposals would have an impact on prices, Mitra said initially it will "be marginal. We expect this to be absorbed over a period of time."

However, after the Budget, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had said that increase in excise duty would result in inflationary impact of 0.41 per cent on the wholesale price index.

"I do agree that my tax proposals (excise duty increase from 8 per cent to 10 per cent on non-oil products) will have some inflationary ingredient. It will be about 0.41 per cent. But in course of time it will be absorbed," Mukherjee had said.

However, he said the purpose of the duty hike was to raise additional resources and, therefore, he took the "risk of having a little inflationary pressure."

He said wholesale price inflation, currently at 8.56 per cent, is primarily because of the rise in prices of wheat, sugar pulses and rice, which can be tackled only by improving supplies.

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