PM may mull freeing auto fuel prices

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh may deliberate on freeing auto fuel prices when he reviews the financial health of state-run oil firms with finance minister Pranab Mukherjee and oil minister Murli Deora on January 13. Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and former Planning Commission member Kirit S Parikh, who heads an expert committee on fuel pricing, may join the deliberations. Officially, the meeting has been called to take stock of the financial position of PSU oil retailers, they said. The issue of freeing petrol and diesel prices from government control may come up for discussion as Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum are projected to lose Rs 45,000 crore on selling the two auto fuel and domestic LPG and kerosene at rates below cost during the current fiscal. Sources said the government had failed to provide the promised oil bonds to make up for the revenue loss on LPG and kerosene, in the absence of which HPCL and BPCL reported losses in the second quarter while IOC barely scrapped through. Freeing of auto fuel prices would result in petrol prices being raised by Rs 3.49 a litre and diesel by Rs 2.38 per litre.

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