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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Oil ministry bid to convince empowered group of ministers on price hike

The petroleum ministry is expected to make a last-ditch attempt to win over other ministers, including those from its allies, on Thursday’s cabinet meeting, according to ministry sources.

The ministry has already made a presentation before the empowered group of ministers (eGoM) on fuel pricing on Monday, but no decision could be taken as key allies of the Congress Party stayed away from the meet.

The allies of Congress Party, Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress, the Nationalist Congress Party and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam are wary of upsetting popular sentiments by announcing free petrol and diesel pricing.

“We are hoping to get at least a schedule for the next eGoM meeting on Thursday.. But finally, it is the Cabinet Secretariat which has to fix the meeting,” said a ministry official, refuting rumours that oil minister Murli Deora is going to personally meet all the ministers this week to convince them to let the prices of petrol and diesel keep track of international crude prices.

The system of capped pricing has prevented private companies such as Reliance Industries and Essar Oil from being able to survive in the domestic petrol and diesel retailing market.

Indeed, Reliance Industries, had indicated plans of re-opening 750 of its 1,400 petrol pumps, is known to be having second thoughts after the Monday’s eGoM meeting failed to result in the freeing of prices.

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