M A I N   N E W S

Petrol, diesel, LPG to cost more
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 15
Ending days of suspense and hectic confabulations, the Centre today announced a hike of about Rs 2 per litre of petrol, Re 1 for diesel and Rs 20 for per cylinder of cooking gas even as the government left the prices of kerosene untouched.

The decision has been taken after days of consultation with the alliance partners, including the Left parties, who had warned the government against ‘drastic hike in kerosene and diesel prices that would have severely hit the common man.’

Briefing newspersons here, Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar said that the new revised prices would be effective from midnight tonight.

The minister indicated that in case of sharp fall in international crude oil prices, the government might revise the prices of petro-products ‘downward’ though he added, “chances of such a scenario were quite dim in the foreseeable future.”

For Indian companies international crude oil basket prices had increased from $ 29 per barrel to around $ 40 per barrel by the end of May this year. But the first week of June the prices declined to around $ 34 per barrel for them.

The government has also decided to execute a cut in excise duty on petrol and diesel. While excise duty on petrol has been reduced by 4 per cent from 30 per cent to 26 per cent, that of diesel has been reduced from 14 per cent to 11 per cent and the excise of LPG has been reduced by eight per cent from the existing level of 16 per cent.

Under the revised pricing mechanism, petrol would now cost Rs 35.70 per litre in Delhi and diesel at Rs 22.73. A cylinder of LPG would now cost Rs 261 — up from the existing level of Rs 241.

Blaming the previous NDA government for not increasing oil prices despite ‘unprecedented hike in international crude oil prices over the past 15 years,’ Mr Aiyar clarified that the increase in the prices of the two transport fuels and that of LPG was lower than the market indicated price.

The difference between the market indicated price hike (Rs 3.67 - Rs 4.91 per litre for petrol, Rs 1.67 to Rs 2.35 per litre for diesel and Rs 133 per cylinder for LPG) would result in an annnualised impact of Rs 18,000 crore on the Indian economy.

The impact would be shared between all stakeholders, including the government, the oil marketing companies and the consumers, without ‘hurting the vulnerable sections of the society.’

Mr Aiyar also hinted that the oil companies would not undertake the fortnightly review of oil prices unless there was a sharp rise or fall in international crude oil prices.

“In consultation with the oil marketing companies, we are working on a package of measures which, we hope, will provide a more enduring basis for promoting economic reforms with a human face,” he said.

Even though the government has decided to leave the prices of kerosene untouched (ostensibly for larger political reasons), its market indicated price hike was Rs 4.43 per litre, Mr Aiyar said.

On the reported move to create an oil price stabilisation fund, the minister said that a decision to this effect would be taken later on.

Moreover, the government, he said was taking a ‘holistic review of oil policy’.Back


16.7 pc hike in coal prices

Kolkata, June 15
Coal India Limited today announced a 16.7 per cent hike in coal prices from midnight tonight.

Announcing this, CIL Chairman Sashi Kumar told newspersons here that they had proposed such “modest” hike in the coal prices after two years to meet various requirements. This would mean an increase of about Rs 80 per ton in respect of the non-coking coal in the country. He said it would generate additional revenue of nearly Rs 1,500 crore annually for the CIL. — UNIBack


Budget on July 8

New Delhi, June 15
The first Budget of the United Progressive Alliance government (UPA) will be presented on July 8.

The Cabinet, which met under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today, has decided to summon both Houses of Parliament for the Budget session on July 5, 2004.

While the General Budget for the year 2004-05 will be presented on July 8 at 11 am, the Railway Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav will present the Railway Budget on July 6. The Economic Survey will be presented on July 7. — TNSBack

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