International community should ensure availability of affordable energy: Mukherjee(Update-Pranab Mukherjee)

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New Delhi, June 3 : External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee today urged the international community to put in greater efforts to make energy available at affordable prices.

Addressing the 87th annual session of the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ASSOCHAM) in New Delhi, he hoped that India would soon become part of the high technology nuclear energy regime to fulfill its ever increasing energy requirements.

As to India's ordeal vis-...-vis soaring international fuel prices, Mukherjee said the Cabinet would decide tomorrow on increasing the prices of fuel.

Pranab said the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs (CCPA) meeting early on Wednesday morning would aim to agree upon the need for raising petrol, diesel and domestic LPG prices. If the CCPA arrived at a consensus, a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) could be called, he said.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday had expressed the inability of his Government to neutralise the impact of international crude prices on the country, and said that the burden of soaring international fuel prices would have to be passed on to the consumer.

Singh had pondered over the possible oil price hike last week with senior ministers and United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Chairperson Sonia Gandhi but no significant conclusion could be reached.

Indian oil companies have been bearing the brunt of the surge in global oil prices and have recorded a Rs 2,25,040 crore revenue deficit.

The Central Government is grappling to find ways to bail out the cash-strapped oil companies and to keep the common man happy in an electorally important year.

Petroleum Minister Murli Deora who has been advocating a Rs 10 a litre hike in petrol, Rs 5 per litre increase in diesel and Rs 50 per cylinder raise in LPG prices will present his side in the cabinet.

However, the price hike may be limited to Rs 3, 5 or 7 a litre on petrol and Rs 2, 3 or 4 a litre on diesel. LPG prices may be raised by Rs 20 per 14.2-kg cylinder, sources said.

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