Although the increase in diesel, LPG and kerosene prices was not listed on CCPA agenda, the Committee's meeting had been postponed without assigning any reason or fixing a new date
New Delhi: A meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs in India (CCPA), which could have decided on raising diesel and cooking fuel prices, was on Tuesday postponed even as Oil Minister S Jaipal Reddy said the price increase was 'unavoidable', reports PTI.
The CCPA, headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and includes ministers from allies of the UPA alliance, was scheduled to meet this evening but it was postponed without assigning any reason or fixing a new date.
Reddy said although the increase in diesel, cooking gas (LPG) and kerosene prices was not listed on the agenda, CCPA could have discussed the issue based on the revised note on the subject that his ministry had circulated to its members on Monday.
"As I said before, however painful and difficult the increase in price of oil product may be, increase is unavoidable. (To) what extent can consumer take (it) is another matter," he told reporters after meeting Finance Minister P Chidambaram before the announcement of CCPA meeting being postponed was made.
The double whammy of rising input cost (crude oil prices) and fall in value of rupee, which has made imports costlier, would mean that oil PSUs would end the fiscal with a huge Rs1.88 lakh crore revenue loss on selling fuel below cost, he said.
"If it (price hike) is not taken up today, decisions may have to postpone by few days. However I would like to tell the people (that) the increase in price is unavoidable. We will have to perform our unpleasant duty," Reddy said.
Diesel and cooking fuel rates have not been revised since June last year even as oil companies also sell deregulated petrol at a price which is almost Rs6 a litre less than its cost.
"I can't say to what extent price rise will be. If I had the power it would had been done yesterday. I don't know if it will happen today or tomorrow or a week later," he said.
While diesel prices have not been revised since June last year, petrol rates were last hiked in July.
Reddy said he had on Monday circulated an updated version of a note detailing the crisis created by the rise in crude oil prices and fall in value of rupee against the US dollar to members of the CCPA.
Besides the Prime Minister and Chidambaram, the CCPA includes Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, Defence Minister AK Antony, NCP leader and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, Telecom Minister Kabil Sibal and Railway Minister Mukum Roy.
"We had circulated a note to all members of CCPA about the problem of increasing under-recoveries (revenue loss on fuel sales)... the under-recoveries will exceed Rs 1.88 lakh crore (this fiscal)," he said. "And prices (are) going up further at the global level; rupee is not softening."
On his meeting with Chidambaram, Reddy said he had "routine interactions" on various proposals but declined to elaborate. "We discussed the figures relating to under-recoveries," he added.
PSU oil firms are losing a record Rs560 crore per day on the sale of regulated diesel and cooking fuels, and another Rs 16 crore a day on petrol.
They are losing about Rs 6 per litre on sale of petrol, a commodity which was freed from government control in June 2010 but whose rates haven't moved in tandem with the cost.
They sell diesel at a loss of Rs19.26 a litre, kerosene at Rs34.34 per litre and domestic LPG at Rs347 per 14.2-kg cylinder.
"I can't take decision (on raising prices) only on the basis of economic facts. We are operating in a political economy. We will have to take a balanced view," he said.
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