Ministerial panel may meet next week on fuel price hike

New Delhi, June 16 (IANS) The empowered Group of Ministers (eGoM) may meet next week to consider an increase in prices of transport fuels.

‘We are trying for a meeting next week,’ Petroleum Minister Murli Deora told reporters here Wednesday.

Deora said he wanted the eGoM meeting to be held Thursday after the cabinet meeting. ‘But the meeting could not be fixed for tomorrow (Thursday) because of prior commitments,’ he added.

The eGoM, chaired by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, had met June 7 to consider the Kirit Parikh committee report recommending freeing of petrol and diesel prices from government control but could not reach at a decision.

The report released in February said that transport fuel prices should be market-based, instead of being subsidized heavily by the government. It also recommended a steep Rs.100 per cylinder hike in LPG rates and Rs.6 per litre increase in kerosene prices.

The government is facing opposition to the idea from within. Key allies like the DMK and the Trinamul Congress are against any further hike in fuel prices.

There is also concern that another hike will stoke inflation.

The petroleum ministry is pushing for raising fuel prices as state-owned oil marketing companies IOC, HPCL and BPCL are losing heavily on selling fuel below the imported cost.

The ministry estimates that under-recoveries have risen to an alarming Rs.72,000 crore ($16 billion).

–Indo-Asian News Service


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