Meeting on fuel price hike tomorrow deferred: Deora

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New Delhi, Dec 13 (UNI) The crucial meeting tomorrow to decide on fuel price hike by the Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee has been postponed by two weeks.

Announcing this here, Petroleum Minister Murli Deora said, ''The meeting of the ministerial panel may take place in the next 10-12 days.'' The meeting was expected to decide a possible hike in the fuel prices to partly offset the mounting losses incurred by the state-run oil marketing companies (OMCs) in the face of spiralling global crude prices.

The Minister refused to comment on the reasons behind the postponement. However, Petroleum Secretary M S Srinivasan said that some key members of the GoM will not be available tomorrow.

OMCs such as Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum are together losing over Rs 250 crore per day on sale of petrol, diesel, domestic cooking gas LPG and kerosene.

Petrol is being sold at a loss of Rs 8.74 a litre, diesel at Rs 9.92 per litre, kerosene Rs 20.53 a litre and LPG at a loss of Rs 256.35 per cylinder.

The annualised under-recoveries of the public sector oil marketing companies (OMCs) are expected to be about Rs 69,700 crore during 2007-08, Mr Deora said last evening while Chairing the Parliamentary Consultative Committee attached to his Ministry.

The high-powered GoM was formed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh late last month which is to report back to the Cabinet in a month's time.

The other members of the GoM include Defence Minister A K Antony, Finance Minister P Chidambaram, Railway Minister Lalu Prasad, Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister T R Baalu, Consumer Affairs Minister Sharad Pawar and the Petroleum Minister.

UNI

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