'Marginal' fuel price hike on cards

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New Delhi, Nov 5: Petroleum Minister Murli Deora today said that the government may go in for a minimum hike in fuel prices and would try not to make it harsh on the consumers.

The oil minister will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday to discuss the hike that is aimed at offsetting the mounting losses of state-run oil companies amounting to Rs 240 crores a day.

''We are trying for a minimum hike in fuel prices...I want people not to suffer,'' Mr Deora told reporters here.

He hinted on duty cuts on oil prducts and issuing of oil bonds.

''We are trying our best to arrive at a solution in an attempt to strengthen our oil PSUs who are reeling under huge losses,'' he added.

Mr Deora said that he has discussed the issue with Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Prime Minister. ''Mr Chidambaram is sympathetic and will come out a solution''.

The government was considering raising fuel prices or cutting duties last week in a bid to ease the pain of state oil firms, which sell fuel at discounted rates.

The government is yet to raise retail fuel prices this year even though global oil prices have jumped, topping 96 dollar a barrel last week.

The Indian basket is now trading at over 85 dollars per barrel, widening the revenue loss of Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum by nearly Rs 7,000 crore.

The state-run firms are currently incurring Rs 240 crore losses per day on sale of petrol, diesel, LPG (cooking gas) and PDS kerosene.


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