The government yesterday ruled out a rollback in the hike in customs duties on crude and excise duties on petrol and diesel, with finance minister Pranab Mukherjee saying the people will have to wait for ''better days'' to see reduction in fuel prices.
Mukherjee had announced an increase in excise and customs duties on petrol and diesel in this year's union budget. Replying to the debate on the finance bill in the Rajya Sabha, Mukherjee said, ''I am sorry I cannot accede to the demands of reducing the prices of petrol and diesel. The situation as of now is very difficult. We will have to wait for better days for this.'' The bill was passed by Lok Sabha last week.
The finance minister said the centre could have increased the prices through the Administered Price Mechanism and retained revenues but decided to include it in the Budget and share it with the states.
Responding to objections and suggestions by the members of the house, Mukherjee said he was aware that he had not presented an ideal budget and that certain areas could have received more attention. But that could be said about every budgetary exercise, he added.
The finance minister urged the state governments to strengthen the public distribution system in order to improve the delivery mechanism and allayed any concerns on food security.
''It is not possible to run the PDS from Delhi. It is primarily the responsibility of the states. We have to ensure there is enough supply of foodgrains to the states and we are doing that,'' he said.