Oil secretary rules out decontrol of diesel prices in near-term

"The assessment is that if diesel (price) is left free, it might lead to further acceleration in inflation. Till there is confidence in a stable growth and a containable inflation, such modulation (of regulating prices) may exist," oil secretary GC Chaturvedi said

Mumbai: Oil secretary GC Chaturvedi on Wednesday said though the government wants to decontrol diesel price, it will not do so till inflation comes down and confidence in the sustainability of higher economic growth returns, reports PTI.

"The assessment is that if diesel (price) is left free, it might lead to further acceleration in inflation. Till there is confidence in a stable growth and a containable inflation, such modulation (of regulating prices) may exist but it is not a long-term perspective," Mr Chaturvedi said addressing the Offshore India conference here.

"I would say this is a transient phenomenon and we ourselves in the government would like to see that the prices of all petro products are fixed as per the international prices," he added.

On LPG price hike, he said, the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) which is meeting tomorrow will discuss LPG price.

The secretary further said the recent spike in international crude prices has resulted in under-recoveries in diesel going up to Rs6 per litre from the earlier Rs4.57.

"The government is quite conscious of the under-recovery, quite conscious of the price parity with the international market and has been taking steps to keep them as close to the international prices as possible," he said, elaborating the steps taken by the government in June, which included a cut in duties and taxes accompanied by a price hike of Rs3 a litre on diesel resulting in a revenue loss of nearly Rs50,000 crore to the exchequer.

Inflation for August stood at an uncomfortable 9.78%, while there is widespread scepticism on whether the country will be able to sustain its high growth rates due to a variety of factors, including the high crude prices.

Though the government has completely deregulated petrol rates, it has not done so for the politically sensitive diesel, kerosene and liquefied petroleum gas yet. Mr Chaturvedi said the EGoM will discuss LPG price hike issue tomorrow.

Asked whether the EGoM will take up diesel decontrol, he said under-recoveries warrant such a move but it is upon the EGoM to take a final call on it. "We present the data to them," he said.

On the recent CAG report which has been critical of the ministry's handling of the Krishna-Godavari basin fields with Reliance Industries, he said, the ministry will present its case before the PAC (Public Accounts Committee) whenever it is summoned.

To a query on another CAG recommendation on the dual role of the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH), Mr Chaturvedi said none of the reports like the CAG's or the earlier one by the Naresh Narad Committee (set up in 2001) gave any solutions to the problem and maintained that the government cannot do away with the DGH.

"We cannot take away the DGH. The DGH is the technical arm of the government. What the DGH would do and what the regulator would do these things are not clear," he admitted.

Asked for his reaction on the criticism that the CAG has not put a number to the possible losses, he said, "I can't comment. It is up to the CAG to calculate or not calculate. I can't say anything. May be there would have been some constraints because of which they could not calculate the exact amount. It can be done later on also."

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Swamy pleads for fresh testimony in the 2G case

In a fresh application before the CBI judge OP Saini, Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy sought to bring on record new facts that former finance minister P Chidambaram and former telecom minister A Raja had a role in deciding second generation (2G) spectrum prices and entry fee

New Delhi: Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy today pleaded before a Delhi court that it should bring on record purported new facts that former finance minister P Chidambaram and former telecom minister A Raja had a role in deciding second generation (2G) spectrum prices and entry fee, reports PTI.

In a fresh application in the court of special CBI judge OP Saini, Mr Swamy said he wanted to bring 'new facts' on court records through his deposition.

"The fact that the above named two ministers together decided that the prices of spectrum and entry fee should be lumped together at the 2001 level and decided against the market price of 2007-08 period for the entry fee, is confirmed by the speech of the prime minister in Rajya Sabha on 24 February 2011," said Swamy in his application.

He also sought to record his testimony afresh alleging complicity of Mr Chidambaram, now Union home minister, in spectrum pricing. This has come now in public knowledge and this necessitates his re-examination as a complainant, he submitted.

Mr Swamy, who is pursuing a private complaint in the 2G scam, also sought to examine CBI officials concerned "to establish the nexus of accused persons with others, who have intentionally not been made accused by the prosecuting agency."

Mr Swamy, in his application filed under Section 311 of CrPC for summoning witnesses, alleged that "the fact clearly shows that Mr Chidambaram was in collusion and active connivance with the then minister for communication and IT, A Raja, to fix the prices at 2001 level jointly and with their unlawful acts both of them thereby caused an unlawful loss to the public exchequer and have taken unlawful gain for themselves."

The Janata Party chief also said he has also filed a similar plea with the Supreme Court which is pending adjudication.

On 26th August, Mr Swamy had told the special court that he needed some more time to file an application to make Mr Chidambaram an accused in the case as the matter is pending in the Supreme Court.

In an earlier hearing, he had alleged before the court that the charge-sheets field by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) did not cover the role of Mr Chidambaram, who 'jointly took important decisions' on allocation of radio waves.

On 8th September, the apex court had directed Mr Swamy to submit all his correspondence with the CBI in connection with his plea to investigate Mr Chidambaram's alleged role in the 2G scam.

Mr Swamy had told the apex court, "A pricing formula for spectrum would not be valid and binding until it had the concurrence of both the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) and ministry of finance (MoF)," and, added that Mr Chidambaram was finance minister when the spectrum allocation was made.

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Possible euro collapse: A great buying opportunity

Stocks are going to get really cheap, especially in Europe.

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