Accepting that high fuel prices have been a cause of difficulty to the general public, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Sunday said that at a time when the government expenditure has surged due to welfare schemes along with vaccination coverage amid the pandemic, the government is saving money for such initiatives for the public.
Speaking to reporters, Pradhan said: "I accept that the current fuel prices are causing trouble to the consumers, there is no ambiguity over it. But whether it is the Centre of the state governmentsover Rs 35,000 crore is being spent on vaccination during a year.
Recently, the Prime Minister announced Rs 1 lakh crore spending for giving free food grains to the poor under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana."
He also added that under PM Kisan scheme, thousand of crores have been transferred to the accounts of farmers and also mentioned that recently the minimum support prices (MSP) for rice and wheat have been announced keeping in view the well-being of farmers, which have added to the government exchequer.
"All these expenses (are there) and along with those, investments are required for job creation and developmental activities," he said.
"In this time of difficulty, we are saving money to spend for welfare initiatives," the Minister said.
On a question on criticism by the Opposition over high fuel prices, the Minister retorted by asking why the states where Congress is in power, such as Rajasthan, Punjab and Maharashtra, fuel prices have not been lowered.
The statement comes at a time when both petrol and diesel prices have surged to unprecedented levels and in several places including Mumbai, and Sri Ganganagar in Rajasthan, petrol prices have surged over the Rs 100 per litre mark.
In Sri Ganganagar, even diesel has crossed the Rs 100 a litre mark. In Delhi, petrol was sold for Rs 96.12 while diesel was priced at Rs 86.98 per litre on Sunday.