The government on Tuesday ruled out any further increase in diesel and cooking fuel prices even though the current retail rates are lower than their cost of production. “I am not so courageous,” Oil Minister S Jaipal Reddy said when asked if the Government will consider raising prices considering the humongous Rs 167,000 crore revenue loss on diesel, cooking gas (LPG) and kerosene sale expected this fiscal.
The government had last month hiked diesel price by a steep Rs 5.62 per litre and restricted the supply of subsidised LPG to 6 cylinders per household in a year. Oil PSUs currently lose Rs 11.65 per litre on diesel, Rs 33.93 on kerosene sold through PDS and Rs 468.50 per 14.2-kg domestic cooking gas cylinder. “Even after these recent increases, the under-recoveries (or revenue loss) this financial year will be higher than it was last year,” Reddy said, adding oil firms are projected to lose Rs 167,415 crore this fiscal as compared to Rs 138,541 crore revenue loss in 2011-12.
“There is a need to raise prices but there is no courage,” he said. Even on petrol, a commodity which the government had freed from its control in June 2010, the oil firms have lost Rs 2,600 crore during the first six months as they could not raise rates in line with the cost.
Oil firms have cut petrol price by 56 paise from Tuesday and the Oil Minister said it was totally up to them to decide on the next reduction whenever it is possible. Reddy said the nation has faced the double whammy of rising price of oil in the international market, on which India is 79 per cent dependent to meet its needs, and depreciation in the rupee against the US dollar that made imports costlier.