EGoM may meet on 22nd Dec to decide on diesel price hike

New Delhi: An Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee may meet on 22nd December to decide on raising diesel prices by Re1-Rs2 a litre in the backdrop of global crude rates climbing to near $90 a barrel, reports PTI.
“The meeting of EGoM has been tentatively scheduled for the afternoon of 22nd December,” a senior government official said.

With international crude oil having climbed to near $90 a barrel, the gap between domestic retail price and the production cost has widened, necessitating the review.

State-run Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation (HPCL) currently sell diesel at Rs4.71 a litre lower than its cost.

“The oil marketing companies are losing about Rs75 crore per day on diesel sale and a view has to be taken on raising fuel prices,” he said. “Freeing of diesel price (from government control) is not possible at this juncture and at best a hike of Re1-Rs2 a litre is likely to be approved.”

The government had on 26th June decontrolled petrol price and had decided to make diesel prices market-based in due course.

While petrol price has risen four times since then, diesel rates have remained unchanged. Another hike in petrol price by oil marketing companies is likely in a day or two to make up for the rise in crude prices.

The official said the three state firms lost Rs11,153 crore in revenues on diesel sales during April-September this fiscal and without any change in price the revenue loss is projected to be Rs36,540 crore.

IOC, BPCL and HPCL also sell domestic LPG and kerosene below cost and the combined revenue loss for the full fiscal is projected to be around Rs65,839 crore.

The official said international crude oil (raw material for making petrol and diesel) prices were around $72-$74 per barrel in June when the government freed petrol price. Since then crude has climbed to near $90 per barrel.

The 26th June decision had resulted in a Rs3.50 a litre hike in petrol prices in Delhi.

At that time, the government decided to raise the diesel price by an ad-hoc Rs2 per litre, even though the difference between the domestic retail price and imported cost of the fuel was almost twice of that.

Besides diesel, the oil retailers lose Rs272.19 on the sale of every 14.2-kg LPG cylinder and Rs17.72 per litre of kerosene.


No provision for determining price of natural gas

Kochi: Turning down Kerala's plea for uniform pricing policy for natural gas throughout the country, Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) chairman, Lalit Mansingh, today said there was no provision for determining the price of gas to the consumers either by the government or regulator and it should be done through price discovery mechanism, reports PTI.

The government policy is that ‘price discovery must take place through competitive market’. Market should not be distorted in any way, Mr Mansingh said while addressing the Natural Gas conference here organised by the state government and Kerala state Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC).

Gas is already being marketed at different prices in Gujarat.

Kerala must focus on developing of the gas market which will in turn depend on infrastructure.

The Government has approved nine major pipelines for supplying gas. The bid process of three pipelines has been completed and two more bids are being invited.

On city gas distribution network at Ernakulum, he said state government was requested to take action notifying single window clearance, Mapping of geographical areas for City Gas Distribution (GCD) networking and exemption or reducing sales tax on Natural gas.

Calling for a uniform pricing policy for gas, state industries minister, Elamaram Kareem, said price of domestic natural gas ranges from $2.71 dollars-$5.73 per million metric British thermal unit (mmBtu). The Union government should devise a policy of pooled pricing of natural gas so that it is priced uniformly throughout the country. It should not be thrown to market forces, he said.

Pointing that cartel of cement manufacturers was deciding the prices of cement, he said this should not happen in the case of gas.

The government has taken up major infrastructure projects including the high-speed Thiruvananthapuram-Mangalore rail corridor, Kochi-Coimbatore industrial corridor, Kannur international airport project and Titanium sponge unit.

The government's focus was on developing infrastructure projects on PPP basis, he said.

GAIL director (business development), S Venkitaraman, said pipeline infrastructure was the key to the growth of gas-based industry. In India gas contributes about 9% of energy mix which is expected to go up to 20% by 2030.

State chief secretary, Dr P Prabhakaran, said natural gas was an important source of energy. Kerala has already staked its claim for larger allocation from the KG basin and share from the pooled gas.

Kerala power secretary, Paul Antony said there is need to usher in a pricing policy for gas. Gas is what we want, but it should be at correct price, he said.


DoT starts sending show-cause notices to erring telcos

New Delhi: The telecom ministry today started issuing show-cause notices to telecom companies which allegedly suppressed information to bag licences or failed to roll out services in stipulated time, reports PTI.

“Show-cause notices to some firms have gone today and we expect to complete the process in the next few days,” telecom secretary R Chandrasekhar told reporters here.

The notices would be served to about nine firms, consisting of 119 licences, of which 85 are allegedly ineligible to get licences and the remaining for missing roll-out obligations.

The notices for a total of 119 licences would be based on the list of licencees, as pointed out by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) that were ineligible to get licences due to misinformation furnished by them. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) also recommended cancellation of licences for lapses in roll-out obligations.

When asked how many notices were issued today, Mr Chandrasekhar declined to divulge details, but said the process would be completed in a few days.

The CAG had listed out licences given to new operators, including Unitech, Videocon, S-Tel, Loop and Swan. TRAI also pointed lapses in licences held by these apart from few others while recommending their cancellation.

“We believe that some of the companies might have suppressed facts, might have got an undue advantage in accessing licences,” telecom minister Kapil Sibal had said last week.

The government auditor CAG has quantified a revenue loss of up to Rs1.76 lakh crore for giving licences and spectrum at 2001 price of Rs1,651 crore for pan-India operations by former telecom minister A Raja in January 2008.

Mr Chandrasekhar said the operators would be given 60 days to respond to the show-cause notices and each case would be dealt separately.

“After studying their response, a decision will be taken on whether these (licences) need to be cancelled or a penalty should be imposed,” he said.


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