Even as the entire country is grappling with the ever-rising prices of petroleum products, the West Bengal government led by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, on Sunday announced a reduction of Re 1 in tax on petrol and diesel.

The cut will be applicable from midnight.

Amit Mitra, the state Finance Minister, said the move will provide marginal relief to people and farmers who are facing the fuel price hike.

“The Centre earns Rs 32.90 per litre in taxes from petrol and Rs 31.80 per litre in taxes from diesel. But the state government gets only Rs 18.46 per litre in taxes from petrol and Rs 12.77 per litre in taxes from diesel,” he said.

The prices of petrol and diesel saw an unprecedented hike continuously over the last 10 days. In some states, the price of petrol even crossed Rs 100-mark.

Till February 20, the retail price of petrol went up by Rs 3.63 a litre – a record since the pricing was decontrolled in 2010. The rates of diesel also rose by Rs 3.84 over the same period.

Earlier, Union Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan on Sunday said that there are two main reasons behind the record-breaking rise in the price of petrol, diesel, cooking gas and related products.

Talking to the media, Dharmendra Pradhan said that there are two main reasons behind the fuel price rise. The international market has reduced fuel production and manufacturing countries are producing less fuel to gain more profit. This is making the consumer countries suffer.

“We have continuously been urging the OPEC and OPEC plus countries that it should not happen. We hope there will be a change,” he said.

“Another reason is COVID. We’ve to do various development works. For this, Centre and state governments collect the tax. Spending on development work will generate more jobs. Govt has increased its investment and 34% more capital spending will be done in this budget

“State governments will also increase spending. This is why we need this tax but there is also the need for balance. I believe the Finance Minister can find a way,” said the Union Minister.

As of Sunday, the oil marketing companies (OMC) have kept the prices of the fuel unchanged across metros after an incessant increase in petrol prices to new record high levels for the past 12 days.

In the past 12 days, petrol prices have increased in the range of Rs 3.2 per litre (Kolkata) to Rs 3.63 a litre in Delhi.

On Sunday, the price of the fuel in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata was at Rs 90.58, Rs 97.00, Rs 92.59, Rs 91.7 per litre, respectively, unchanged from the previous levels.

In the past few days, petrol and diesel prices increased with steep hikes, pinching the consumers harder, and drawing criticism for the government from several quarters along with the opposition.