Saudi Arabia is grappling with the formidable task of reinventing its economy, steering away from the dependence on oil that has long defined its financial landscape.
Prices of petrol and diesel continued to soar to hit new highs on Saturday after the oil marketing companies raised fuel rates for the fourth time this week.
On Saturday, the oil marketing companies raised petrol and diesel prices by 25 paise per litre each.
As a result, petrol and diesel prices in the national capital jumped to Rs 85.70 per litre and Rs 75.88 a litre respectively.
India’s financial capital, Mumbai, also witnessed a sharp rise in fuel prices as petrol was being sold at Rs 92.28 a litre while the diesel was priced as Rs 82.66 per litre.
This is the second consecutive day of rate increase and the fourth this week. In all prices have gone up by Re 1 per litre this week.
Fuel prices, which vary from state to state depending on local sales tax or VAT, are now at record highs in the country, prompting cries for a cut in excise duty to ease the burden on consumers.
In other metropolitan cities like Kolkata and Chennai petrol was at Rs 87.11 per litre and Rs 88.29 a litre respectively.
On the other hand, diesel was being sold at Rs 79.48 per litre in Kolkata and Rs 81.14 per litre in Chennai.
Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan earlier this week blamed Saudi oil output cut for the surge in oil prices but remained non-committal on tax cuts.
Earlier this month, top oil explorer Saudi Arabia had pledged additional voluntary output cuts of 1 million barrels per day in February and March. This cut has led to price climbing to most since the pandemic broke out.
State-owned fuel retailers, Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOC), Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL), had on January 6 resumed daily price revision after nearly a month-long hiatus.
Since then, rates have gone up by Rs 1.99 a litre on petrol and Rs 2.01 in case of diesel.
Experts believe that the oil prices will continue to trade higher as the various economies across the world are going back to normalcy, including India, and offices are getting reopened with the arrival of the coronavirus vaccines.
Prior to the current highs triggered by the price hikes this month, fuel prices had last touched record high on October 4, 2018.
At that time the government had cut excise duty on petrol and diesel by Rs 1.50 per litre in a bid to ease inflationary pressure and boost consumer confidence.
Alongside, state-owned fuel retailers cut prices by another Re 1 a litre, which they recouped later.
This time, there are no indications of a duty cut so far.
Petrol and diesel prices are revised on a daily basis in line with benchmark international price and foreign exchange rates.