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‘Saving money for welfare schemes’: Petroleum minister explains continuous rise in fuel prices

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‘Saving money for welfare schemes’: Petroleum minister explains continuous rise in fuel prices

Amid a steep rise in prices of petrol and diesel, Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan on Sunday acknowledged that the rising rates were problematic. But he claimed that the fuel prices could not be brought down as the Centre is “saving money for welfare schemes”

According to the union minister, the government is spending ₹1 lakh crore on providing free food grains to poor this year. Besides, the Centre has spent ₹35,000 crore on vaccines and healthcare infrastructure.

“I accept that fuel prices are pinching consumers, there’s no doubt about this. But over Rs 35,000 crore has been been spent on Covid vaccines in a year. Rs 1 lakh crore has been spent on Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Yojana in order to provide eight months’ ration to the poor. A few thousand crores of rupees have also been transferred to farmers’ bank accounts under PM Kisan…In such dire times, we’re saving money to spend on welfare schemes,” Pradhan was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

Pradhan also questioned Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who has regularly targeted the Centre on the rising fuel prices. The Union minister said that Gandhi should answer about the high fuel prices in Congress-rules states such as Punjab, Rajasthan and Maharashtra.

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“If Rahul Gandhi is so concerned and worried about the poor, he should direct his Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to reduce taxes,” he said.

Notably, Fuel prices have been increased 23 times since May 4, with both petrol and diesel costing more than Rs 100 in some places. The price hike could be attributed to a combination of rising international oil prices and record-high central and state taxes.

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