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Decision on oil prices deferred till Oct 15
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 30
The Manmohan Singh government today asked the oil marketing companies to defer a decision on the revision of retail prices of petrol and diesel till October 15, and directed the public-sector oil firms to share the burden.

The decision was taken when Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today with the proposal to hike the price of diesel and other petro products on the demand of oil marketing companies in view of the sharp increase in international crude oil prices.

The demand of the ministry has been rejected keeping in view the impact of hike in oil prices on inflation and implications for the Maharashtra assembly elections scheduled for October 13.

Later talking to the reporters, Mr Aiyar said “The decision to maintain the current price levels has been taken despite the spurt in the international oil prices.”

He said the government had already formed a committee to look into the excise and customs duty structure and also the revenue it would get due to the increase in crude prices.

“We will ask the oil companies to hold prices,” he said, adding that the government would have to work together to control inflation.

The oil marketing companies had submitted to the government proposals for hiking petro prices as they had suffered losses worth more than Rs 3000 crore due to the rise in the prices of international crude oil and petro products. The government has now directed the oil firms ONGC, GAIL and Oil India Ltd, which have benefited from the rise in prices, to compensate IOC, HPCL and BPCL for the losses.

Mr Aiyar claimed that the government would review the prices of petroleum products every fortnight and suggested that the Lahiri committee submit its report to the government before the next due date of revision.

The government, which is continuously monitoring international prices of petroleum products, said that while sweet crude prices were rising, the crude prices of Indian basket were ruling around the mid-August level of 42 dollars a barrel even now. Prices between mid-August and now had also fallen below the 40 dollar mark.

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