PM meets senior Cabinet colleagues on petrol price hike

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New Delhi, May 29 (UNI) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today had a meeting with his senior Cabinet colleagues on petrol price hike and officials said a final decision in this regard will be taken soon.

The meeting at the Prime Minister's residence at 7, Race Course, was attended among others by some key Cabinet Ministers. These included Finance Minister P Chidambaram, Petroleum Minister Murli Deora and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee as also Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia.

Mr Chidambaram, who was presiding over the ''All India Conference of Chief Commissioners and Director Generals of Customs, Excise and Service Tax,'' left the event to attend the meeting at the Prime Minister's residence.

Mr Deora told a private TV news channel that a decision on oil price hike could be taken by the Cabinet either today or tomorrow.

While refusing to spell out the details which the Cabinet would work out, Mr Deora said Mr Chidambaram was not entirely unwilling to cut duties, as was stated to him by the reporter.

''The Finance Minister is fully co-operating'' and the Left parties have been taken on board on the situation arising out a phenomenal hike in global crude oil prices, Mr Deora said.

He said the Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) need to be bailed out of the huge under-recoveries they are faced with.

The Minister said there was no attempt at rationing of petrol or diesel, adding that there were some other reasons for shortage in some areas.

''The government is toying various options such as oil bonds of higher magnitude and price hike. The decision has not been finalised,'' he added.

Mr Deora said global crude oil prices which were of the order of 60 to 70 dollars are now stand at 130 to 132 dollars a barrel. On account of this, the PSUs are losing money and the government wants to come to their rescue.

The Minister appealed to the people to co-operate with the government wherever there was scarcity of petrol and petroleum products.

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