New Delhi: The United Progressive Alliance government will decide whether or not to reduce fuel prices after a meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) concludes in Vienna on Friday. Opec is to discuss a production cut to shore up crude oil prices.
Contrary pulls: Petroleum and natural gas minister Murli Deora. AFP
But any fuel price cut decision may have to be referred to the Election Commission of India, with polls scheduled to take place in six key states in the next two months and general elections by May.
“We are considering a reduction. Within a week we will be able to come to a decision,” oil minister Murli Deora told the Lok Sabha on Thursday. “Though there is a fall (in crude price), we are still losing money on all the petroleum products. There is a 25% drop in the rupee value.”
Despite falling crude prices, oil firms are expected to register significant losses because they continue to sell below cost at government-mandated rates, and because the weakening rupee increases their cost of servicing dollar debt.
Meanwhile, the Left asked the Union government on Thursday to reduce the prices of petroleum products as global crude prices have declined substantially. “If you can defer or stagger payments to oil firms by the airline industry, why can’t you reduce the prices of petroleum products to give relief to a vast majority of the people?” Communist Party of India (Marxist) politburo member Sitaram Yechury asked.
(PTI contributed to this story.)