Our Bureau

New Delhi, Sept. 2

THE Petroleum Minister, Mr Mani Shankar Aiyar, on Friday indicated that the Cabinet meeting scheduled for early next week might consider allowing the refiners to increase prices of the petroleum products.

When asked about the fuel prices in context of the increasing international oil prices, the Minister, in a teleconference from Oslo, told presspersons that ``There's a meeting early next week in which I'll make a presentation."

The Petroleum Ministry is understood to have pitched for raising petrol and diesel prices by Rs 3 per litre each and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) price by Rs 20 per cylinder. It had also proposed a cut in excise duty on petrol and diesel by Re 1 per litre each.

The oil marketing companies (OMCs) Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL), Bharat Petroleum, and IBP have together lost about Rs 14,700 crore in revenues this fiscal on fuel sale. The total revenue loss is likely to touch Rs 40,000 crore by the end of the financial year, if the Government does not take corrective measures including a price increase. The average Indian crude basket price touched $62.50 a barrel on Wednesday, which is an all time high.

The IOC Chairman, Mr Sarthak Behuria, on Thursday had urged the Government to allow the refiners to raise petrol prices by Rs 7.5 a litre and diesel prices by Rs 5 to help cut losses from selling fuels below cost of production. He also asked for an increase in price of kerosene by Rs 12 a litre and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) by Rs 96 per cylinder.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated September 3, 2005)
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