No move to hike petrol prices

With a view to bringing down the prices of petrol in the country, the Union Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has recommended that the excise and customs duty be reduced to provide some relief to the people. Stating this here today, Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas S Jaipal Reddy said the recommendation had been forwarded to the Union Government and the matter would be taken up by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs soon, after which the prices were likely to come down. Reddy, who was here to dedicate the Rs 14,500 crore Naphtha Cracker plant to the nation, said as of now there was no move to either roll back or hike petrol prices in the country. He said any decision in this regard could be taken only at the meeting of the empowered group of ministers, which would be held shortly. He said the loss burden on oil companies had touched Rs 80,000 crore and it was likely to cross the Rs 1 lakh crore mark. “At present the oil companies bear the losses as these sell petrol at a loss of Rs 1-2 per litre, besides giving various subsidies on diesel, LPG and kerosene,” the minister said, and claimed that the subsidies on LPG and kerosene would continue in view of the “public sentiments”. The minister said the government would pay for 50 per cent of the cost of the subsidy being given by the oil companies, while the companies would bear one-third of the revenue losses and the rest would be borne by the downstream companies. Speaking on the row over a proposed oil assets deal between Cairn India and Vedanta Resources, the minister said the matter would be discussed by the Cabinet soon. In August last year, Cairn had decided to sell up to 51 per cent in Cairn India to Vedanta, but the ONGC had expressed concerns over the issues involving royalty payments. State-owned explorer Oil and Natural Gas Corporation owns 30 per cent stake in some of the assets up for sale. The Petroleum Minister said the ONGC’s interests would not be compromised at any cost. Reddy dedicated the country’s largest Naphtha Cracker plant to the nation. The plant has been set up in 46 months at an investment of Rs 14,500 crore on the premises of the Panipat Petro-Chemicals Hub. Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Union Minster for Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation and Culture Kumari Selja and Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas RPN Singh were also present on the occasion and addressed the gathering.

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