No fuel hike for now, says EGoM

      The Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) on Monday decided to defer a decision on hiking fuel prices, saying that another meeting of the group was required before a final decision on the issue could be taken. The EGoM met in the capital this afternoon to discuss the recommendations of the Kirit Parekh Committee, and after reviewing the same, decided that another round of talks was required. The Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) is headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, and was to decide on when to free petrol and diesel prices from government control. The group was expected to move towards gradual removal of a controls on diesel and cooking gas (LPG) prices. The government is concerned over the financial burden being borne by oil companies because of the present subsidy on fuels. To reduce that burden, the EGoM will have to raise the price of petrol by at least Rs.3.35 per litre and that of diesel by at least Rs.3.49 a litre. Petrol in Delhi currently costs Rs.47.93 a litre, while diesel is Rs.38.10 a litre. "This is a very opportune moment to free prices of petrol and diesel. While petrol prices can be raised by Rs.3 a litre to link it to market (pricing), in the case of diesel, the excise duty can be reduced to the tune of under recovery, so that prices at the retail level remain unchanged," said Parekh. The report, given in February, suggested market-linked prices for petrol and diesel, a partial increase of Rs.6 a litre for kerosene and Rs.100 on every cylinder of LPG. It also proposed a reduction in kerosene sold through ration cards by 20 per cent. Besides Mukherjee, the EGoM also includes Oil Minister Murli Deora, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, Chemical and Fertiliser Minister M.K. Alagiri, Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee, Road Transport Minister Kamal Nath and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia.

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