New Delhi: The prime minister's economic advisory panel (PMEAC) has said a hike in diesel prices may be deferred to next fiscal due to high inflation rate, reports PTI.
"Perhaps, if by March 2011, the inflation rate comes to about 6%, perhaps that may be the time at which they may revise the diesel prices," PMEAC chairman C Rangarajan told PTI.
A meeting of a ministerial panel headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, to consider raising diesel price by at least Rs2 a litre, was deferred twice last month and no new date has been notified yet.
State oil firms currently sell diesel, the most consumed fuel in the country, at a loss of Rs6.99 a litre and have been pressing for an increase in retail prices to narrow the losses.
Indian Oil Corporation, Bharat Petroleum Corporation and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation together lose about Rs128 crore per day on sale of diesel below the imported cost.
The losses have widened after global crude oil prices touched a two-year high of $92 per barrel.
Crude was ruling around $74 per barrel in June, when diesel prices were last revised.
The government had in June freed petrol prices from its control and stated that diesel price will be made market determined in due course. However, rising crude oil prices has derailed those plans with state oil companies even selling petrol at a loss of Rs1.25-Rs1.50 a litre.
Mr Rangarajan has always been in favour of freeing diesel prices from government control and linking it to global prices.
"Possibly, petroleum prices will be adjusted to the international crude price," he added.
However, inflation rate, particularly the food inflation is very high and if prices are raised now, it could add to inflationary pressure.
Food inflation surged to a ten-week high of 14.44% for the week ended 18th December as prices of vegetables-onions, in particular-besides fruits, cereals and protein based products continued to escalate.
Overall inflation in November stood at 7.48%, down from 8.58% in the previous month.
Following the spike in food prices, PMEAC has revised upwards its projections for overall inflation at the end of the 2010-11 financial year to 6%, as against the earlier estimate of 5.5%.
Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee has said that overall inflation could moderate to around 6.5% by March-end, as against the 6% projection in the finance ministry's Mid-Year Review.
Major steel makers say they will announce hike today. SAIL announced hike this morning
Indian steel producers JSW Steel Limited and Essar Steel will increase prices of flat products by 4%-5% today, due to surging raw material costs. This morning, the Steel Authority of India announced a 3% rise in the price of its products.
"We will increase prices of flat products in the range of 4%-5% depending on grades and products, as coking coal price for January-March contract has been increased by 4%-5% compared to the previous quarter, while iron ore (price) has gone by up by 8%-10%," Sharad Mahendra, senior vice-president, marketing and sales, JSW Steel, told Moneylife today. Last month, JSW Steel increased product prices by an average of Rs500 per tonne.
Essar Steel also confirmed that it will increase prices of flat products by around 5% on account of higher raw material prices. "We will increase product prices by about 5%," said B Ganesh Pai, vice-president, corporate communications, Essar Group. Essar Steel makes flat products.
Moneylife had reported on 9 December 2010 that steel makers were likely to increase prices by between 3% and 6% due to higher raw material prices in early January 2011. (http://www.moneylife.in/article/4/12082.html)
Today, JSW said it will increase the prices of its long products also, but it could not give the range of the price hike.
Flat products are used mainly by the automobiles and consumer durable goods sectors, while long products are used for construction and infrastructure projects.
"Prices on long and flat products in the international market have gone up, but primarily higher input costs have fuelled prices of steel products," Mr Mahendra said. Flat products account for around 70% of JSW's production.
Meanwhile, Tata Steel is also expected to announce a price hike on its products some time today. However, company sources were not available for comment.
New Delhi: The retirement fund manager Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) plans to replace PF account number with unique identification (UID) number, a move which will help in speedy transfer of a subscriber's funds in case of job change and allow them to track their accounts online, reports PTI.
At present when a subscriber changes job, it takes months to transfer provident fund money from one account to another, as the records are required to be transferred from one office to the other.
Under these circumstances, a large number of subscribers often withdraw the entire money in their account and go for a fresh account with the new employer.
The replacement of PF account number with the UID number will be done after inter-connecting all regional and sub offices of the Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) by March 2012.
"We are in the process of digitizing and inter-connecting all our offices. We are planning to use unique identification number as the subscribers account number after that," labour secretary PC Chaturvedi told PTI.
He said, "Besides expediting the transfer of funds from one office to another, it would help in reducing the number of withdrawals. Moreover, every subscriber would be able to track his account online."
EPFO has set a target of digitalizing the entire data in its regional and sub office by March this year in the first phase. In second phase all offices would be inter-connected.
Digitalization and use of UID as PF A/c number would also facilitate the subscriber to apply for transfer and withdrawal online.
In a pilot study conducted at EPFO's Karnal office, it was found that over 30.2% of subscribers withdraw their PF within a year of joining service while 54.3% do so by the end of the second year.
EPFO, having a subscriber base of about 4.7 crore employees, processes over 60 lakh claims every year. It manages about Rs3 lakh crore of funds and receives an incremental deposit of over Rs25,000 crore every year.