Excise reduced from Rs 21.48 per litre to Rs 19.48 on petrol, while excise duty on diesel down to Rs 15.33 from Rs 17.33 per litre

Amid rising criticism for its failure to pass on benefits of declining global crude oil prices to Indian buyers of petrol and diesel, the Centre has cut the excise duty on petrol and diesel by about Rs 2 a litre each to moderate the relentless rise in fuel prices over the past three months.

As a result of the Centre’s decision, petrol price was, on Wednesday, cut by Rs 2.5 a litre and diesel by Rs 2.25 following a reduction in the excise duty on auto fuels. On petrol, the excise has been cut to ₹ 19.48 from ₹ 21.48 and on diesel to ₹ 15.33 from ₹ 17.33 previously.

Petrol in Delhi now costs Rs 68.38 a litre, down from Rs 70.88. A litre of diesel will now cost Rs. 56.89, against Rs 59.14 previously, according to Indian Oil Corporation (IOC).

IOC Director (Finance) A K Sharma told news agency PTI that the cut in retail selling price was higher after factoring in its impact on the value added tax (VAT).

Excise duty is levied on fuel produced ex-refinery. Local sales tax or VAT is then levied on the total of ex-refinery cost plus excise duty and commission paid to the fuel dealers.

Until Tuesday, VAT on petrol in Delhi was Rs 15.07, while it now stands at Rs 14.54. Similarly, VAT on diesel came down to Rs 8.41 on Wednesday as opposed to the earlier rate of Rs 8.73.

The excise duty cut grants some relief to consumers who had been burdened by the relentless rise in petrol and diesel rates since July 4. While the petrol prices increased by Rs 7.8 to reach Rs 70.88 a litre in Delhi on Tuesday, the highest since August 2014, the diesel rates rose by Rs 5.7 to touch an all-time high of Rs 59.14.

The excise duty cut would cost the government Rs 26,000 crore in annual revenue and about Rs 13,000 crore in the remaining part of the current fiscal year that ends on March 31, 2018.

The BJP government, which had, between November 2014 and January 2016, raised excise duty on petrol and diesel on nine occasions to take away the gains arising from plummeting global oil prices, has been criticised for not cutting excise duty despite a sustained rise in fuel prices.

In all, the duty on petrol was hiked by Rs 11.77 a litre and that on diesel by Rs 13.47 in the past 15 months that helped government’s excise mop up more than double to Rs 2,42,000 crore in 2016-17 from Rs 99,000 crore in 2014-15.

While the costliest petrol was sold in September 2013 when it was priced at Rs 76.06 a litre in Delhi, the previous highest rate of diesel was also during the BJP rule in September 2014 when it was priced at Rs 58.97 a litre.