It’s a comment on the times we live in that the pump price of petrol and diesel is over Rs.80 and Rs.75 per litre respectively, at a time when the international price of crude oil is hovering around $80 per barrel. In the bad old days of the Congress-led UPA-I government at the Centre (2004-09) when the price of imported crude was $140 per barrel, the pump price of petrol was Rs.50 and diesel Rs.40. The plain truth which every citizen and his dog knows, is that the Union and state governments are taxing these two crude oil derivatives to the gills regardless of their cascading inflationary impact on the country’s 300 million-plus bottom-of-the pyramid poor. The BJP/NDA government at the Centre and its other (apart from CBI) caged parrot, RBI, maintain that inflation measured by the WPI (wholesale price index) is below 5 percent. But the WPI is wholly out of sync with the CPI (consumer price index) which itself is a fudge given the basket of goods it monitors.
Yet the moot point is where does the huge petroleum, oil and lubricants tax revenue estimated at Rs.2.57 lakh crore per year disappear? According to government spokespersons, into the game-changer 30-plus social welfare schemes of the Centre enumerated in the Union budget. But there’s a deafening silence in the media, and within debating champions of the idiot box on the issue of wasteful government expenditure hidden under the umbrella of establishment expenses, which swallows 20 percent of the tax and other revenue squeezed out of the citizenry.
Conspicuous media silence on runaway government establishment expenses is compounded by similar reticence about the operational performance of ONGC and Oil India, the two government-owned behemoths promoted for oil exploration and production. Under their duopoly, domestic crude production has stagnated at 30 million tonnes for the past five years during which national demand has risen from 80 million to 110 million tonnes. The plain truth evaded by commies, lefties and jholawallas is that these companies have transformed into massive paper shuffling bureaucracies, seething with intrigue from which all competent engineers have fled. If only the professedly pro free enterprise BJP government had issued a blanket invitation to entrepreneurs worldwide to tap India’s crude hydrocarbon reserves estimated at 763 million tonnes on generous revenue sharing terms, things would not have come to this sorry pass.