Deora for hike in petrol, diesel prices

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New Delhi, May 23: Expressing concern over the surging crude oil prices in the international market, Petroleum Minister Murli Deora today said a decision regarding 'domestic fuel price hike' needed to be taken immediately. ''We may take decision about raising prices of petrol and diesel within three-four days,'' Mr Deora said.

Meanwhile, Petroleum Secretary M S Srinivasan said, ''A hike in prices of petrol and diesel looks 'inevitable' in the face of surging crude rates.'' Due to the government's bar on raising fuel prices, the domestic companies like Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum are facing a huge liquidity crunch and may soon run out of funds to import crude oil.

The Minister is pushing for a combination of auto-fuel price hike and a cut in customs and excise duties in order to keep a check on the alarming situation.

Mr Deora also referred to Rs 2,00,000 crore under-realisation expected by public sector oil companies this year on sale of petrol, diesel, LPG and kerosene because of the surge in global crude prices.

He said the government will consider raising the borrowing limit of state-run oil firms which are reeling under soaring global crude prices while having to sell fuels cheaply.

''According to me, this evening's meeting will look into raising the borrowing limit of public sector oil companies,'' Mr Deora said.

''The Prime Minister is also concerned about the financial health of the PSUs and he has asked his Principal Secretary to meet Secretaries of Finance and Petroleum along with the heads of the three oil companies to reconcile differences on the issue,'' he added.

Yesterday Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said the government ''will not allow our oil companies to bleed'' when when asked about as what steps the government was taking regarding the rising oil prices in the international market.


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