Decision on fuel price hike next week: Deora

Written by Agencies | Delhi, January 31: | Updated: Jan 31 2008, 19:48pm hrs
The Union Cabinet is likely to take a call early next week on raising petrol and diesel prices, besides a possible re-jig in duties to contain the impact of surging international crude oil prices.

Four of the seven-member Group of Ministers on fuel prices, headed by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, met this morning and decided to leave the final decision to the Cabinet, Petroleum Minister Murli Deora said.

"Of course, we discussed this (price increase) issue (but) the committee has decided to leave it to the Cabinet," he said, adding that the Cabinet could meet as early as February four or five.

The GoM is understood to have narrowed down to two options - raising petrol price by Rs 4 or Rs 2 a litre and diesel by Rs 2 or Re 1 per litre.

"I can't just say that we have firmed up a recommendation and have forwarded it to the Cabinet. The GoM may meet again just before the Cabinet to make a firm suggestion," he said.

Deora and Mukherjee, along with Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and Finance Minister P Chidambaram, dropped the idea of raising domestic cooking gas (LPG) prices and instead asked the Finance Minister to cut excise duties.

Sources said to effect a minimal price hike, Chidambaram was asked to cut customs duty on crude oil and petroleum products and Re one a litre excise duty reduction on petrol and diesel to avoid the around Rs 71,000 crore loss on fuel sales expected by the state oil firms in 2007-08 fiscal.

"Finance Ministry is very cooperative," Deora said but did not say if Chidambaram had agreed for duty cuts.