New Delhi, Nov. 10 (NNN): The Progressive Alliance Government (UPA) is likely to roll-back part of the oil and LPG price hike, according to sources here on Wednesday. The union government was reconsidering the decision to raise cooking gas prices by Rs 5 per cylinder every month, but is unlikely to rollback the hike of Rs 20, effected last week.
Though the international crude prices stabilised after a meeting of the Oil Producing and Exporting Countries (Opec) in June, they again soared to cross $55 a barrel in October.
Fuel is still cheap in India The recent hike in the price of LPG cylinders may appear steep in the domestic market, but an internal note of the petroleum ministry points out that a 14.5 kg cylinder in New Delhi at the revised price of Rs 281.60 is cheaper than that sold in Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
A similar quantity of cooking gas was sold for Rs 411.99 in Karachi, for Rs 283.05 in Dhaka, for Rs 372.62 in Colombo and Rs 462.25 in Kathmandu.
Apart from the hike of Rs 20 in LPG prices, the government had also hiked the prices of petrol and diesel on November 4. However, kerosene was spared.
A litre of kerosene in New Delhi, priced at Rs 9.01, is cheaper than Karachi (Rs 18.68), Dhaka (Rs 15.44), Colombo (Rs 11.30) and Kathmandu (Rs 15.30).
"No change has been made in the case of PDS kerosene, even though international prices of kerosene have risen to $58.29 per barrel in October 2004 (an increase of 147 per cent) from $23.65 per barrel in March 2002, when the price was last changed," the note said.
Points out an executive with an oil marketing company: "The retail prices before Thursday's hike were fixed based on international crude oil prices of $41 a barrel. There is no scope for reducing the price right now even though international prices have come down after the elections in the US."
The union finance ministry has ruled out further duty cuts. It has argued that any more cuts would result in a significant loss of revenue.
Sources estimated that under-recovery from cooking gas was roughly Rs 3,500 crore (Rs 35 billion) annually, which translated to about Rs 158 a cylinder.
The Cabinet decision in July had laid down that the oil marketing companies would be allowed to increase the retail prices of petrol and diesel if the international prices remained within a variable band.
Meanwhile, in case international prices breached the 10 per cent ceiling of the band, the government was required to intervene through modulation of the excise duty rates of petrol and diesel. The international oil prices within the first five months of the current year touched a 15-year high of $39.36 per barrel, which made the government decide on the price band.