Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal on Monday urged the Union government to bring down fuel prices by taking back the recent hike in petrol and diesel to give much needed relief to farmers as well as the common man and trade and industry.

In a statement, the SAD president said the huge hike in fuel prices over the last sixteen days was causing a lot of stress to the country’s economy which was still reeling from the effect of lockdown due to Covid-19.

He said the sixteen day consecutive hike in fuel prices had made petrol dearer by Rs 9.21 per liter and diesel costlier by Rs 8.55 per liter. He said the situation had become such that taxes now made up two thirds of the retail price of both petrol and diesel.

Badal said the recent hike in fuel charges had hurt the farmers and the common man the most. He said farmers, who were already bearing a huge increase in labour charges for transplantation of paddy, now had to reckon with an unprecedented hike in fuel prices.

He said similarly the common man had started feeling the cascading inflationary effect of the increase in fuel prices with rates of all essential commodities on the increase. “The hike in fuel prices is also affecting the supply chain and is even putting a burden on those providing essential supplies during a time of pandemic,” the SAD leader said.

Badal said the withdrawal was also justified keeping in view the unprecedented steep fall in international crude oil prices. He urged the Union government to direct oil companies to pass on the benefit of the sharp decrease in international oil prices to the common man.

The SAD president said the Congress government in Punjab should also take back the hike in state value added tax (VAT) on fuel in the interest of state farmers as well as the common man.

He said the state government had affected an increase of Rs 3.20 per liter in the price of petrol and Rs 2.53 per liter in the price of diesel. He said the Punjab government understood that State farmers had to pay double the normal labour charges for transplantation of paddy because of flight of migrant labour from the state.