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Chidambaram discusses oil prices with PM

Our Bureau

New Delhi , May 31

IN the wake of global crude oil prices crossing $41 a barrel, the Finance Minister, Mr P. Chidambaram, today met the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, and is reported to have held discussion on ways to check its impact on domestic fuel prices.

Petrol and diesel prices have not been hiked since January this year despite an increase of close to $6 a barrel in crude oil prices during the period, resulting in substantial losses for the state-run oil retailing companies. Kerosene prices have also been frozen for past two years.

Emerging from the meeting, Mr Chidambaram declined to comment on the issues discussed with the Prime Minister.

Today's unscheduled meeting has, however, given rise to speculations that the Government might resort to options like duty cuts to keep the prices under check.

According to Government officials, the options being considered in lowering import duty on crude oil and excise duty on petroleum products.

The previous NDA-Government had put the issue of hiking retail prices on hold since the Lok Sabha elections were round the corner.

In a meeting with newspersons last week, Petroleum Minister, Mr Mani Shankar Aiyar, had said that the Government would wait for the oil cartel Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) meeting on June 3 to decide on revision in the domestic fuel prices.

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