In a relief to consumers, the oil companies have decided to cut the petrol prices by 49 paise per litre and diesel by Rs 1.21 a litre. The reduction which will be effective from midnight has been attributed to the softening international oil rates.
A statement issued by Indian Oil Corp said, ” Prices of petrol in Delhi will be Rs 60 a litre as against current level of Rs 60.49, while diesel will cost Rs 48.50 per litre, as compared with Rs 49.71.”
After the revised petrol rates are rolled out, it will cost cheapest in Delhi at Rs 60 per litre as compared to the other metro cities. In Kolkata the price will be Rs 67.48 (down 40 paise), Mumbaikars will have to shed Rs 67.53 per litre, and Chennai residents will have to spend Rs 62.75 (down 51paise) for a litre of fuel.
The fall in fuel prices follows two rounds of price hikes in February and March.
Since the last price change, “the international prices of both petrol and diesel have declined. The Rupee-US Dollar exchange rate has, however, depreciated. The impact of both these factors warrants decrease in retail selling prices of both petrol and diesel,” IOC said in a statement.
India’s subsidies to petrol and diesel between October 2018 and June 2019 amounted to almost three times the three-year government budget for electric vehicle (EV) support, a new study revealed on Thursday.
The study by Global Subsidies Initiative (GSI) of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) said the government could redirect the money collected in tax via petrol and diesel towards EVs and see far more growth.
Despite the commitment to reduce air pollution and achieve at least 30 per cent of new vehicle sales being electric by 2030, the Indian government subsidised conventional transport by Rs 26,957 crore over the last nine months, far outpacing the Rs 10,000 crore spending over three years on its flagship EV program and faster adoption and manufacturing of electric vehicles.
“The cuts to fuel excise and oil company margins announced late last year resulted in a major drop in government revenue. The money would have been better spent in supporting India’s ambitious agenda to adopt EVs and renewable energy rather than perpetuating dependence on petrol and diesel,” IISD Associate Tara Laan said in a statement.
India is heavily reliant on fossil fuels in the transport sector, which contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and alarming levels of air pollution.
Transitioning to EVs could reduce the level of toxic air pollutants relative to conventional vehicles and shift the source of these emissions away from cities.
“With the decision to reinstate the fuel excise and further lower GST on EVs, the government is back on the right track,” said Purva Jain, GSI India Program Consultant and co-author of the report.
“It should also allocate some of the fuel excise and road and infrastructure cess to boost support to EVs,” said Jain.
This would help in reducing dependence on imported crude oil and improve air quality.
“Price cuts for petrol and diesel have the opposite effect, sending motorists a price signal to continue using fuel and, more importantly, a message that the government intends to intervene when international oil prices escalate.”
A main recommendation of the study is to reallocate subsidies for oil and fuel to programs that support India’s clean energy transition, including implementing additional policies that would support the EV market.
“We recommend that government implements pricing policies that promote EV charging during times when renewable electricity is being generated,” said Laan.
A strong inflow of foreign funds and benign oil prices have strengthened the Indian currency but what has worked best for the rupee is the fading impact of war hysteria. Experts now see a chance for the RBI to recoup the reserves it spent in 2018 defending the rupee.
Putting a number to this, Gurang Somaiya, currency analyst at Motilal Oswal, said: “It is possible that RBI may limit some of the appreciation and recoup some of its lost reserves… but it may only come if the rupee strengthens to around Rs 68.20 a dollar.”
Explaining the factors at play, Anindya Banerjee, Deputy Vice President for Currency and Interest Rates with Kotak Securities, said: “Post-Abhinandan (shooting down of the IAF pilot), geopolitical risk has subsided which has boosted investor sentiments.”
Banerjee added that the gains of the rupee will help the Reserve Bank of India recoup reserves which it lost last year in a bid to arrest its fall.
“The rupee appreciated and closed at 70.14 for the last week on the back of strong flows and fading impact of war hysteria,” said Sajal Gupta, Head Forex and Rates, Edelweiss Securities.
In addition, Gupta said that some “big flows are lined up next week. Maybe Arcelor Mittal money can hit the Indian markets which can lead to some more appreciation towards 69.50 unless the RBI intervenes”.
However, the rising dollar index is causing nervousness and any breakout may lead to a reversal in the rupee’s trend, said Gupta. Somaiya said that RBI may choose not to intervene as the central bank’s prime aim was to arrest volatility.
“Yes the rupee is inching below the 70-a-dollar mark but then the (general) election can cause massive volatility. Also, it is seen that a lot of central banks are getting into a dovish stance owing to the fears of global slowdown.”
The RBI had to stop the slump in the rupee late last year after it touched an all-time high of 74.47 on October 11 following the rising crude oil prices.
The Brent Crude touched $86-a-barrel mark in early October but started to ease following the US decision to exempt 8 countries, including India and China, to continue buying oil for six months from Iran despite sanctions.
The decline in crude oil, which accounts for a large import bill for India, directly affects the exchange rates.
A major factor supporting the rupee is the strong prospect of better fund flows from abroad.
“Inflows into India have clearly turned positive since the end of January. The flows in February at Rs 17,720 crore is the highest since November 2017. The trigger for this inflows is the dovish statement that came from the Fed at the end of January,” said V.K. Vijayakumar, Chief Investment Strategist at Geojit Financial Services.
India’s foreign exchange reserves stood at $401.78 billion as against $393.13 billion in November last year. As the data suggests, with improving macros, the forex is already on the recovery path. (IANS)
In a choppy week’s trade, the Indian currency weakened against the US dollar to close above the 71 a dollar mark on Friday, owing to a sharp rise in crude oil prices, turmoil in the equity markets and uncertainty around the US-China trade relations.
In what could translate into further trouble for the domestic currency, analysts see an upward move of 6 to 7 per cent in the Brent crude prices in the coming week.
The rupee lost heavily towards the end of the week – over 70 paise in the last three trading session – as traders reacted to the sanction on Venezuela and production cut by OPEC and Saudi Arabia.
Sajal Gupta, Head Fx & Rates Edelweiss, said “technically … crude now looks set for another 6-7 per cent rise” which would mean that the rupee was likely to depreciate further in the coming sessions. “And if Rs 71.80 per dollar is broken, we can head towards Rs 72.50 mark.”
Among other factors impacting the currency, Gupta said, with crude and dollar index giving breakout, rupee would remain under pressure. Trade deficit data released on Friday post market was also not very encouraging with monthly deficit touching almost 15 billion dollars.
“Political tensions would also remain heightened with key leaders vowing strong retaliation in wake of the biggest terror attack in the Kashmir valley.”
Explaining the factors which has caused volatility, Anindya Banerjee of Kotak said the currency markets largely depend on the capital flows … and right now the fear of a possible retaliation by the government in response to the Pulwama attack is having an affect.
“The context of the whole event is also important because (Lok Sabha) elections are around the corner,” Banerjee said.
Also, the currency losing against the dollar and rising crude oil prices was a double whammy for the bond markets, he added.
On the global front, discussing the factors affecting the currency, Banerjee said, the Chinese economy was very fragile right now and moreover investors were looking for developments in the US-China trade talks.
However, Gurang Somaiya, currency analyst, Motilal Oswal, felt that the rupee was protected from any major weakness as “Foreign Institutional Investment (FII’s) came around good”, especially in February.
According to data from the bourses, FII has seen inflows worth Rs 1,096 crore in February.
India on Friday revoked the Most Favoured Nation Status (MNS) of Pakistan and has warned that more stern actions will follow the attack in Pulwama. Additionally, equity markets have declined for 6 straight sessions showing weak investor sentiments. (IANS)