This is the second hike in petrol prices in less than two months and it came on a day when the food inflation rose ‘dangerously’ to 12.21% for the week ended 22nd October
New Delhi: State-owned oil companies on Thursday effected yet another steep hike in petrol price, by Rs1.80 per litre with effect from Friday, the 5th increase this year, coming on top of falling rupee and rising cost of imported crude, reports PTI.
Petrol price in Delhi will cost Rs68.64 per litre, up from Rs66.64 a litre. The retail selling price in different cities will vary according to the local sales tax.
“Crude oil has been more or less steady but rupee depreciation is a cause of concern. We have been forced to increase prices because of rupee depreciation,” Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPCL) chairman and managing director RK Singh told PTI. The base price has been increased by Rs1.50 per litre.
“The rupee has depreciated from Rs46.25 a dollar to Rs49.40, increasing our cost of imports,” Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) director (finance) PK Goyal said.
Sources said oil minister Jaipal Reddy consulted finance minister Pranab Mukherjee before oil companies were given a green signal to raise prices.
The heads of three oil companies —IOC, BPCL and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation (HPCL)—met here Thursday evening to decide on the price hike after they got a firm green signal from the oil ministry, they added.
This is the second hike in petrol prices in less than two months and it came on a day when the food inflation rose ‘dangerously’ to 12.21% for the week ended 22nd October.
Oil marketing companies had earlier hiked petrol prices by Rs3.14 a litre on 16th September when the rupee was ruling at about 48 to a dollar.
The government had in June last year deregulated or freed petrol from all price controls but the retail rates have not moved in line with cost as high inflation rate forced the oil companies to seek ‘advice’ from parent oil ministry before revising rates.
This is the sixth price increase since petrol price was deregulated, after excluding minor changes resulting from duty changes and increase in dealers’ commission.
On Wednesday Mr Reddy had met Mr Mukherjee to appraise him of the precarious financial health of oil companies. Earlier in the day today, the oil ministry sent a detailed note to the Cabinet secretariat seeking urgent action on deteriorating financial health of oil PSUs.
The oil ministry in its note pointed that Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum together will lose about Rs1,30,000 crore in revenue this fiscal on selling diesel, domestic LPG and kerosene at government-controlled rates.
Sources said the three companies are losing Rs333 crore per day on selling fuel below cost.
State-owned oil firms are currently losing Rs9.27 per litre on diesel, Rs 26.94 per litre on kerosene sold through the public distribution system (PDS) and Rs260.50 per 14.2-kg LPG cylinder supplied to households for cooking purposes.
While the loss on these three products are compensated through a combination of government cash subsidy and upstream oil firm dole-outs, no such mechanism exists for making good the losses on petrol as the product is deregulated.
The three firms are virtually living on borrowed money as they had to raise funds to meet even working capital requirement in the absence of fuel selling price not meeting even operating expenses.
The oil ministry had also requested for an early meeting of the high-powered ministerial panel to decide on ways to deal with the crisis.
The Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) meeting is being sought before the winter session of Parliament that begins on 22nd November.
The ministerial panel is essentially a consensus building body of the Congress-led UPA government and comprises of key allies like DMK, TMC and NC. The allies had in September scuttled plans to limit supply of subsidised LPG cylinders to 4-6 per household a year with a view to reduce subsidies.
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The government has claimed that Arvind Kejriwal had violated bond rules by quitting the service before completing three years of service after going on a study leave on full pay. However, Mr Kejriwal said he took non-paid leave and quit the service after serving bond conditions
New Delhi: Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal today returned over Rs9 lakh in dues to settle the issue of his resignation from the IRS, insisting that he was doing so in protest and it does not mean he has accepted any mistake, reports PTI.
Mr Kejriwal sent a cheque of Rs9,27,787 along with a letter to prime minister Manmohan Singh, asking him not to ‘trouble’ his six friends, including Magsaysay winner Harish Hande, who had given him an interest-free loan to settle his dues.
The 43-year-old activist’s decision to settle the dues is seen as an attempt by the Team Anna member to blunt attacks from detractors.
The government has claimed that he had violated bond rules by quitting the service before completing three years of service after going on a study leave on full pay. However, Mr Kejriwal said he took non-paid leave and quit the service after serving bond conditions.
In his letter to Mr Singh, he said, “I am enclosing a cheque for Rs9,27,787. This does not mean that I have accepted the mistake. When I don’t know what was the mistake I committed, then there is no question of accepting it.
“I am returning the dues in protest. I appeal to you to instruct the finance ministry to accept my resignation. Once my resignation is accepted, I retain my right to approach the court to reclaim the dues,” he said in the four-page letter.
Claiming that he did not have any savings and he took loans from six of his friends to pay dues, he said many people offered him the money but he did not take it as it may be construed as ‘misusing’ the anti-corruption movement.
“That is why I took loan from only those people whom I know for years. The whole government machinery is after Team Anna. I appeal to you with folded hands that your government should not trouble those people who have given me loan,” he said.
Mr Kejriwal had taken study leave on full pay for two years from 1 November 2000 after signing a bond that he would return the salary if he resigns or retires or fails to resume duty within three years of his study leave.
He rejoined on 1 November 2002 but took non-paid leave after 18 months.
The government argues that taking leave after 18 months was violation of bond conditions, an argument objected by Mr Kejriwal who claimed that he did not ‘violate’ any bond provisions and resigned from the job after the stipulated three years of rejoining duty following his study leave.
The Office of the Chief Commissioner of Income Tax (CCIT) had on 5th August issued a notice to Mr Kejriwal asking him to pay Rs9.27 lakh, which Mr Kejriwal and other Team Anna members had termed as an action of the government’s ‘dirty tricks department’ under instructions from political bosses.
In his letter, Mr Kejriwal claimed that he did not violate any rules but “your government is asking me to return the salary which I took during study leave with interest.
“Your government is asking me what I did during my two years of leave without pay. It was during this period that I prepared the draft for RTI. As I have pointed out, I was not given any posting for over a year. Do you think it was right to take salary without any posting for three and half years?” he contended.
Mr Kejriwal said he received international recognition like Magsaysay award during the period when he was on leave but in the eyes of the government, it looks like a wrong thing and is accusing him of committing wrong.
“I would like to ask you what crime I have committed my working for RTI during leave without pay which I should not have committed... I request you to please tell me what wrong I committed,” he said.
Mr Kejriwal said he has been trying to convince the government for the past five years that he has not committed any wrong.
“I have been told that this time, Prime Minister’s Office has also seen my file and they also find me wrong. I have not understood what crime I have committed for which I am being punished. If somebody can tell me what wrong I have committed, then I can avoid doing it in future,” he said.
The activist said he had taken study leave for two years promising that he will provide inputs on how to tackle corruption in power and PDS sector.
“After joining back, I was not given any posting for more than one year. I was drawing salary without doing any work. I found it worthless. I did not have any leave. So I decided to take leave without pay. It was sanctioned also,” he said.
He said many people have offered to pay his dues and it only showed that they can “see through government’s attempts at targeting Team Anna members.
“Rather than diminish, such attempts are only increasing support for the movement. It is strengthening people’s resolve to fight against corruption,” he said.
While his batch-mate in IIT-Kharagpur and chemical engineer Subrato Saha gave him a loan of Rs3.5 lakh, another batch mate Harish Hande gave him Rs3 lakh, Mr Kejriwal said.
Civil engineer and friend Rajiv Saraf provided him a loan of Rs1.15 lakh while another engineer Atul Bal gave Rs62,000 and Vikas Gangal Rs50,000. His former colleague in Tata Steel P Srinivas gave him Rs50,000.