CCPA meets tomorrow on fuel price hike, hectic activities on

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New Delhi, Jun 3 (UNI) The Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs (CCPA) is meeting here tomorrow morning to take a decision on hiking prices of petrol and petroleum products.

The CCPA, which is a high powered body, will try to work out a consensus on raising the prices and can take a decision on the issue.

Hectic activities were on in the government throughout the day to thrash out the details of final decision in this regard.

Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia had a meeting in Yojna Bhawan this afternoon, first with Petroleum Secretary M S Srinivasan and later with Finance Secretary D Subbarao.

He then went to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to brief him about his meetings with senior bureaucrats and to appraise him of the Planning Commission's assessment on the subject.

Dr Ahluwalia is of the view that the oil marketing companies (OMCs) cannot be allowed to bleed for long. The consumers must, therefore, share the burden of the whopping global crude oil prices, which is now in the range of 135 dollars a barrel.

To suit the convenience of External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who is to leave for Beijing tomorrow morning, the CCPA meeting has been kept early in the day.

Mr Mukherjee while stating that there was a Cabinet meeting tomorrow did not confirm whether it related to the fuel price hike issue.

The comments from Mr Mukherjee came when he was asked by newspersons about the issue after he addressed a meeting of ASSOCHAM, a premier industry chamber.

Indian Oil Corporation Chairman Sarthak Behuria recently painted a gloomy picture confronting the OMCs, including the need for rationing the commodity and the dire financial straits in which the state-run oil marketing companies find themselves in.

He indicated that all oil imports may have to stop as these oil giants will run out of cash in view of the huge under-recoveries.

The Prime Minister yesterday indicated the need for evolving a political consensus for the consumers to share the burden of high global crude oil prices.

Refineries like IOC, HPCL and BPCL are expected to lose Rs 2,46,000 crore by way of revenue on account of selling subsidised petrol, diesel, kerosene and LPG.

Analysts say that this may be the last hike that the UPA government can effect before the General Elections in 2009 as political expediency will forbid the government to do so later in view of its impact on the electorate.

UNI GS-SBA MP BST2019

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