Strong case for hike in prices of petrol, diesel

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New Delhi, Jan 17 (UNI) There is a strong passibility of a hike in retail prices of petrol and diesel, to offset the impact of the spiralling international crude prices, said a top petroleum ministry official today.

The official said any changes in the prices of LPG and kerosene are unlikely.

''We will convince the cabinet which can be called at a short notice about any recommendation that the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) makes,'' the official said.

We are also looking at the possibility of duty rationalisation, he added.

However, Petroleum Minister Murli Deora today declined to comment on the issue and said any decision taken by the EGoM will be known later in the day.

The EGoM, headed by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, will meet later to take a decision on the issue. It is understood that an increase of Rs 4 and Rs 2 a litre in petrol and diesel prices is being considered.

Since its formation in November, the EGoM has not met even once. Its meetings were postponed twice for various reasons.

Yeterday, Mr Deora said the issue of a hike in fuel prices is likely to be resolved today in the EGoM's meeting.

''There is no problem. I hope the issue will be resolved tomorrow,'' Mr Deora had said.

The three government-owned OMCs such as Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum are projected to lose Rs 69,753 crore on sale of petrol, diesel, LPG and PDS kerosene as the government has not allowed them to raise prices in line with the price of imported crude.

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.

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