Raising fuel prices an option with govt: Deora

"We are seriously concerned about the rise in crude oil prices ... we have to look for solutions," Petroleum Minister Murli Deora told reporters after meeting Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee with his Budget wishlist.

Deregulating petrol and diesel prices has been on the cards since the crude oil prices came down by USD 100 from the historic high of USD 147 a barrel, a few weeks back. But with the rates climbing again, doubts are being cast if prices can actually be freed.

Crude oil prices are ruling at USD 71-72 a barrel, a seven-month high.
"We have to seriously look at solutions... the alternatives before us are raising petrol and diesel prices, asking the government to make up for revenue loss (of fuel retailers) through issuing oil bonds and upstream firms (like ONGC) chipping in," he said. "It could even be all of the three as had been the practice till now," he added.

Deora, however, was not categoric in saying if raising petrol and diesel prices was on table. "I cannot say that," he said when asked if the Government was considering a fuel price hike.

State fuel retailers Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum may together lose close to Rs 60,000 crore in revenues if they are to sell petrol, diesel, domestic LPG and kerosene at current rates.

Till last fiscal, the revenue loss was divided among all three stakeholders -- consumers, oil companies and Government -- equally by way of a small price increase, oil bonds and upstream assistance.

"We must urgently find solutions," he said indicating the Finance Minister may address the issue in the Budget he will present in Parliament on July 6.

"This is an issue he may decide at the time of Budget," he said. "We have to find avenues."

Deora, however, refused to commit to a time-frame for deciding on the issue. He also did not say if deregulation of petrol and diesel prices was on table. "I cannot say anything on this." 

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