Either oil prices have to be hiked or subsidy raised: Chief economic advisor

For a nation that is 75% dependent on imported crude oil to meet its energy needs, a spike in rates may spell bad news as the government will have to make a tough choice between shelling out more subsidy and passing the rise to consumers, chief economic advisor Kaushik Basu said

New Delhi: The government may be forced to hike diesel and cooking fuel prices or shell out more on oil subsidy if global crude oil prices continue to rise, reports PTI quoting chief economic advisor Kaushik Basu.

For a nation that is 75% dependent on imported crude oil to meet its energy needs, a spike in rates may spell bad news as the government will have to make a tough choice between shelling out more subsidy and passing the rise to consumers, Mr Basu told a conference here.

"In such circumstances (if oil price rise is significant) the government will either have to bear the additional cost or pass it on to the consumer. However, in such a case either decision would be difficult," he said.

Mr Basu said a spurt in crude oil prices would force the government to recalculate the amount of subsidy it will give on petroleum products.

"If crude prices go up sufficiently high then so does our calculations on subsidies," Mr Basu told the conference organised by Institute of International Finance here.

For 2011-12, the finance ministry has estimated Rs23,640 crore in oil subsidy, lower than Rs38,386 crore of current fiscal.

Global crude oil prices are at the highest level since 2008, touching $116 per barrel.

The government had in June last year decided to free petrol pricing from its control and the same on diesel was to be done eventually.

The spike in crude rates has meant that even retail rates of petrol have not moved in tandem with cost while the deregulation of diesel has been kept in abeyance.

India's oil imports grew by 7.8% to $7.85 billion in January, taking the import bill during April-January 2010-11 to $79.95 billion.

Mr Basu exuded confidence that food prices will moderate and government's subsidy on food would not be affected much in the next fiscal.

Although food inflation declined to 11.49% in second week of February, it still remains a concern for the government.

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Bajaj Auto motorcycle sales jump 22% in February

Bajaj Auto reported 22.18% jump in its sales for February at 2,86,657 units over the same month last year

The country's second largest two-wheeler maker Bajaj Auto Ltd (BAL) reported 22.18% jump in its sales for February at 2,86,657 units over the same month last year.

The company had sold 2,34,623 units in February last year, BAL said in a statement.

BAL's exports went up 31.93% to 1,02,433 units in last month from 77,642 units in February 2010.

The company reported a rise of 18.40% in its three-wheeler sales during last month at 40,217 units as against 33,968 units during the same month last year.

Total vehicle sales of the company in last month were best for February and stood at 3,26,874 units compared to 2,68,678 units in the same period a year ago, a growth of 21.66%, the statement said.

On Wednesday, BAL ended 5.25% up at Rs1,334.85 on the Bombay Stock Exchange, while the benchmark Sensex gained 3.50% to 18,446.50.

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Infosys Technologies and Oracle help Seattle City Light improve customer service during outages

Infosys utilised its industry-leading systems integration capabilities and consulting solutions to implement the Oracle solution within an expedited timeframe of 16 months

Infosys Technologies Ltd and Oracle announced the completion of a successful business transformation program incorporating the implementation of Oracle Utilities Network Management System at Seattle City Light, one of the nation's largest municipal owned utilities. Tasked by the Seattle-based utility to help leverage its investment in new technology for better customer service, Infosys utilised its industry-leading systems integration capabilities and consulting solutions to implement the Oracle solution within an expedited timeframe of 16 months.

The newly implemented Oracle solution, selected in 2009, at Seattle City Light enhances the coordination of service restoration efforts by enabling real-time information sharing. For example, Seattle City Light can now inform customers of the causes of outages and give estimated times for service restoration, thereby improving communications with customers as well as interactions between dispatchers and repair crews. The network management system also predicts which customers are affected by outages, thus when customers contact the call center, customer representatives will be able to share the outage restoration information as well.

The system at Seattle City Light is improving operational efficiency and flexibility, increasing customer service, reducing duration of outages and integrating data from existing information systems.

Infosys is a diamond level partner in Oracle Partner Network (OPN). The diamond level distinction, the highest membership level in OPN, recognises the expertise of Infosys with Oracle solutions and its ability to consult and deploy Oracle technologies for clients globally. Infosys also collaborated with UISOL Inc., an integration provider and domain expert, on the Outage Management System for the Seattle City Light implementation.

Bill Vellante, group vice president and general manager, Oracle Utilities: "With the implementation of Oracle Utilities Network Management System, Seattle City Light will be able to accelerate network restoration, improve operational efficiency, enhance system reliability and better manage distribution assets."

On Wednesday, Infosys ended 2.83% up at Rs3,088 on the Bombay Stock Exchange, while the benchmark Sensex gained 3.50% to 18,446.50.

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