Decision to hike fuel prices next week

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New Delhi, Jan 31 (UNI) A decision to hike prices of fuel is expected to be taken next week at a Cabinet meeting after the Group of Ministers (GOM) which met here today said it had not reached any conclusion on increasing the retail cost of petrol and diesel.

The meeting of the GOM headed by External Affairs Minister, Pranab Mukherjee which met here this morning deferred the decision on the hike in prices and said the Cabinet will take a view on the same early next week.

''We have not taken any decision in today's GoM meet and have referred the matter to the Cabinet for a decision,'' Petroleum Minister Murli Deora who was also at the GOM meet said. He said the Cabinet is expected to meet on Monday or Tuesday to take a call on the issue. The GoM is expected to meet once again before the cabinet meeting.

However, any increase in fuel prices would be minimal, Petroleum Minister Murli Deora had said at the earlier meet.

The earlier meeting by GOM on fuel prices was also inconclusive as two ministers were not present.

"Our endeavour is that consumers should not be burdened too much, and the losses of oil companies are also taken care of," the Minister said.

Mr Deora said, "The hike will be (kept) minimal... I can assure that people will not complain." Without a hike Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum are projected to lose Rs 71,808 crore.

The earlier GoM had discussed the options of raising petrol price by Rs 4 or Rs 2 a litre and diesel by either Rs 2 or Re 1 per litre together with Rs 50 per 14.5-kg cylinder LPG price increase, but with no raise in PDS Kerosene prices.

However, the proposed hike in LPG and kerosene prices may be dropped.

UNI PBB/RT PDT HT1422

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