The Congress on Monday criticised the Modi government over Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) buying the Centre’s shares in Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) as mere “jugglery” to show that the government has maintained the fiscal target of disinvestment before the Union Budget 2018.
“The ONGC move to buy the shares of HPCL is just a step by the government to show their balance sheet of disinvestment. It is just a way of the jugglery of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government,” Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi told media here.
He alleged that the government was doing it because it has not been able to achieve its disinvestment targets in the last three years.
“In 2014-15 the government missed the target of disinvestment by 44 per cent, in 2015-16 it missed the target by 41 per cent and in 2016-17 it missed it by over 20 per cent,” Singhvi said.
The Congress leader said that to buy the shares of the HPCL, the ONGC, which is a profitable company owned by the government, has to borrow Rs 30,000 crore.
Singhvi’s remarks came two days after ONGC said that it will acquire the government’s 51.11 per cent equity share-holding in HPCL at a consideration of Rs 36,915 crore.
Through the single share sale, the Centre would be able to meet half of its disinvestment target of Rs 72,500 crore for 2017-18.
Hitting out at the government over the rising prices of petrol and diesel, the Congress leader said the government earned about Rs 6,000 crore in the last three years. “And it did not pass a single penny of that to the common man,” he said.
“In 2014, before we demitted office, we bought crude oil at $105 per barrel. Whereas for the last three years the prices of crude has remained very low, in 2014-15 it was $46 per barrel, in 2016-17 it was $47 per barrel and in 2017-18 it is now $68,” he said.
“Even when the prices of crude oil were high, we (Congress-led UPA) were able to control the petrol and diesel prices, but under this government the prices of petrol and diesel has reached a record high of Rs 80.10 and Rs 67.10 per litre respectively in Mumbai,” he said.
The Congress said that according to a report of Morgan and Stanley the fiscal deficit is likely to increase by 3.5 per cent.