24 Oct : A reduction in the domestic prices of petrol and diesel appears to be on the anvil with the fall in the global crude prices from a high of over USD 147 a barrel in July to USD 61 now.
Petroleum Minister Murli Deora gave no commitment in this regard in the Lok Sabha on Thursday when he was pushed by members who sought a reduction in domestic fuel prices in view of the fall in international crude price that touched USD 61 On Thursday.
"The matter is being examined and an announcement would be made within a week," Deora said during Question Hour in reply to a volley of questions on the issue even as opposition MPs staged a walk out.
He said that the government was awaiting the outcome of the meeting of oil exporting countries OPEC on Friday.
"Tomorrow the OPEC countries are going to make an announcement about the future course of action and then we will take necessary action," he said.
He, however, cautioned that though the crude price had come to USD 61.47 "we are still losing money in all the four products, that is, petrol, diesel, kerosene and domestic LPG.
What has really come in the way is the fall of rupees versus dollar."One dollar was about Rs 40 to Rs 41 and now it has gone to Rs 49 or Rs 48.50. This has depreciated the Indian rupee to the tune of 24 to 25 percent. We are watching the situation."
Stating that the crude prices at USD 61 had not gone down very much, he said "we should wait, watch and situation and then we can take a decision on this issue."
Global crude prices have come down below 67 dollars a barrel from a high of 147 dollars and now the government should live upto its promise and reduce prices of petroleum products, MPs said.
Deora also faced wrath of members over the "bailout" package to airlines at the cost of the common man. The Petroleum Minister as also Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel denied that any bailout has been given and said only deferment of outstandings has been allowed.
To a question from BSP’s Brajesh Pathak whether the government will give free diesel to farmers, Deora pointed out that even now, huge subsidy was being given on various petroleum products. He said the question was "wrong".
But members of the BSP, Left and the NDA were in no mood to listen and they staged a noisy walkout.Earlier this week, Finance Minister P Chidambaram had said in the Lok Sabha that India’s administered prices of petrol, diesel, LPG and kerosene were based on Indian basket at 67 dollar a barrel.
Deora said the government was waiting for further reduction in global crude prices and would consider the matter later. But as members got agitated and wanted an immediate response, he said a decision would be announced within a week.