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No question of fuel price roll back: Pranab

Kolkata, July 4 (Calcutta Tube) A day before a countrywide shutdown called by opposition parties, including the Left, on the fuel price hike, union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee Sunday brushed off any suggestions of a roll back and said the political parties could decide how they wanted to protest.

‘I am not interested in who is calling a bandh or not. This much I can tell you, it is for the political parties to decide what mode of protest they will take. I have no comments on it and in respect of bandh our PCC (Pradesh Congress Committee) president has already stated our party’s position,’ Mukherjee told reporters brusqely on the sidelines of a seminar organised by Assocham.

Asked by reporters whether the government would consider rolling back the fuel hike, Mukherjee said: ‘There is no question of a roll back.’

The Left parties and the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance have separately called for a Bharat Bandh Monday to protest the fuel price hike.

On June 25, a ministerial panel, headed by Mukherjee, had lifted the pricing controls on petroleum. As a result, petrol went up by Rs.3.50 a litre. The government hiked the prices of diesel by Rs.2 a litre, kerosene-known as the poor man’s fuel and traditionally spared during periodic fuel price hikes-by Rs.3 a litre and cooking gas by Rs.35 per cylinder.

Mukherjee also said that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) move to hike the repo rates, the rate at which banks borrow from the RBI, was an ‘appropriate and welcome measure’.

‘So far as the interest rates are concerned, 25 basis points enhancement in the repo and reverse repo rate is appropriate and a welcome measure.

‘And I do hope it will be subsumed in the new policy statement which will be made by the RBI in the later part of this month on July 27,’ the finance minister said.

On Friday, the RBI hiked key interest rates by 25 basis points with immediate effect in an attempt to contain soaring inflation. The repo rate was increased by 25 basis points to 5.5 percent and the reverse repo rate by a similar quantum to 4 percent.

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