No freeing diesel prices now: Oil Secretary

New Delhi: Oil secretary S Sundareshan has said that the government is not considering freeing diesel prices yet, as this could lead to an increase in retail prices that would push up already high inflation. “Diesel price deregulation will mean an increase in prices, which is not fair (under present circumstances),” Mr Sundareshan said at the Economic Editors’ Conference.

The government announced the freeing of petrol prices on June 25, after which the price of petrol has increased by Rs3.50 a litre. The prices have been raised twice by about a rupee, in line with the hike internationally. Petrol costs Rs52.55 a litre in Delhi.

Diesel prices were raised by Rs2 a litre on June 25, and it was said that this too would be freed gradually. A move to deregulate the rates now would mean a further increase in the price of the fuel by Rs2.87 a litre. Diesel costs Rs37.71 a litre in Delhi.

“The decision was taken in June when the crude oil price was at $73-74 a barrel. Since then it has gone up to $82-83 a barrel and it will be unfair to think that the diesel price will be market-determined at these levels,” Mr Sundareshan said. Diesel price deregulation is “not possible with the current prices ... diesel deregulation at this juncture will lead to price increase and it is unreasonable to expect it at this juncture.”

In June, the government also raised the price of domestic LPG by Rs35 on a 14.2 kg cylinder and the price of kerosene by Rs3 a litre. Despite these hikes, public sector fuel retailers lose Rs16 on the sale of every litre of kerosene, and Rs188 on each LPG cylinder.

Mr Sundareshan said IOC, BPCL and HPCL lost Rs31,367 crore in revenues in the April-September quarter on sale of diesel, domestic LPG and kerosene below the cost price. This includes Rs2,227 crore the oil firms lost on selling petrol below the cost price till June 25.

Of this loss, upstream oil firms Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, GAIL India and Oil India will chip in Rs10,456 crore and about Rs10,000 crore would come from the government by way of cash compensation.

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Union Bank of India Q2 net profit tumbles to Rs303.4 crore

Union Bank of India Ltd said its second quarter net profit fell to Rs303.4 crore from Rs505.1 crore same quarter last year due to substantial increase in non-performing assets (NPAs).

During the September quarter, the lender's total revenues increased to Rs4461.9 crore from Rs3760.9 crore. However it said its net profit was impacted by substantial increase in non-performing asset provision of Rs629 crore as against Rs102 crore in the corresponding period of the previous year, the bank said in a regulatory filing.

On Thursday, Union Bank of India shares fell 5.6% at Rs392 on the Bombay Stock Exchange, while the benchmark Sensex declined 1.1% to 20,005 points.

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Jindal Steel Q2 net up 11% to Rs894.2 crore

Jindal Steel & Power Ltd (JSPL) reported 11% jump in consolidated net profit at Rs894.2 crore for the second quarter of this fiscal on robust sales.

The steel-maker had a net profit of Rs808.4 crore in the same period last year, the company said in a filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE).

During the second quarter to end-September, Jindal Steel's net sales soared 25% to Rs3,078 crore from Rs2,455.6 crore same period last year.

On Thursday, JSPL shares ended 1.5% down at Rs695 on the BSE, while the benchmark Sensex declined 1.1% to 20,005 points.

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