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Feb 18, 2013, 12.49 PM IST
The government had said last month it would allow fuel retailers to raise the price of subsidised diesel by 0.40 rupees-0.50 rupees a litre every month and asked bulk buyers to pay market rates. Major oil marketing companies have taken the decision to hike fuel prices, which should be encouraging for the market.
I see a very distinct change in the functioning of the petroleum ministry. I find decisions getting taken and I feel that is a very positive sign.
The government had said last month it would allow fuel retailers to raise the price of subsidised diesel by 40-50 paise a litre every month and asked bulk buyers to pay market rates.
Now, major oil marketing companies have hiked fuel prices, which should be encouraging for the market.
RK Singh, chairman, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd ( BPCL ) in an interview to CNBC-TV18 said fuel price hike was not an independent decision but a Cabinet decision. “We have been communicated in clear terms that diesel prices can be raised by 40-50 paise per month, until further orders, to reduce the under-recoveries in a phased manner,” he added.
He applauded this decision, which would not only help under-recoveries but also save put consumers from hardships.
RS Sharma, former CMD, Oil & Natural Gas Corporation ( ONGC ) also applauded this decision. He said, “I see a very distinct change in the functioning of petroleum ministry and I find decisions getting taken, which is a very positive sign.”
Below is the verbatim transcript of their interview on CNBC-TV18
Q: You have managed that fuel price hike. Was the decision taken independently this time or did you finally have to get a green signal from the government?
Singh: We have been communicated in clear terms that diesel prices can be raised by 40-50 paise per month, until further orders, to reduce the under-recoveries in a phased manner. This was, in my opinion, a great decision by the government of India not to burden the consumer and at the same time reduce the under-recoveries in a phased manner, so that the government burden, oil companies’ burden is lessened to that extent. At the same time consumers are not put to hardships. This was the decision conveyed to us. It was a cabinet decision and we are going ahead with that.
Q: You have got two price hikes in diesel under your belt, you think you will be able to move in March as well or because of some state elections is there an instruction that in March you maybe asked to hold back?
Singh: I am not aware of any such instruction from the government. But let us wait and see. Let us not assume what will happen one month from now.
Q: So two hikes now-- 45 paise each on diesel, where does that still keep your under-recoveries at?
Singh: Diesel prices have also gone up as is the case with crude. Crude, which used to hover around USD 112-113 per barrel, has now moved to USD 118-119 per barrel. The exchange rate has worsened further and diesel prices itself have gone up. Therefore, the under-recovery in diesel which used to be Rs 9 per litre and some paise has jumped to close to Rs 11 per ltire. So, with this reduction by 45 paise, the under-recovery has come down to the level of close to Rs 10 per litre.
Q: There is some concern around the petrol prices though, there has been a huge surge in international prices since January, does the Rs 1.50 hike adequately cover you or are you still making some losses there?
Singh: This was the under-recovery till February 15. So when we hiked the price on February 15 midnight, the under-recovery amount was Rs 1.50 that is what we raised. But you are right, petrol prices now have gone up further and the current under-recovery is about Rs 3. But we will have to see how it behaves in the next 15 days time.
Therefore, next month we will have to take a view as to what is the average under-recovery and then accordingly we will decide whether to raise the price or reduce the price because it can work either way. The prices may go down also. We cannot raise the prices of petrol based on 1-2 days quote. We will have to wait for minimum 15 days.
Q: You have been hearing what the oil marketing companies (OMCs) version is and you have gone through this whole process over a multiyear period, having seen two diesel price hikes are you now getting more hopeful that this will happen for the remaining months of the year as well or do you think state elections will come in the way?
Sharma: One thing is very clear that I see a very distinct change in the functioning of the petroleum ministry and I find decisions getting taken and I feel that is a very positive sign. I have been all along lobbying for this kind of the mechanism that the prices keep getting aligned on a dynamic basis on regular basis rather than in an ad-hoc manner after six months or after one year, and then there is a strong reaction.
The way this mechanism has been put in place, I am extremely happy. The whole mechanism balances the burden of all stakeholders. Let us see in course of time, moving forward if the same adjustments are allowed to be done, I feel that is going to be very positive for the economy, for these companies, for the industry.
Tags: RK Singh, BPCL, diesel prices, under-recoveries, RS Sharma, ONGC, subsidy sharing, Rangarajan formula, Oil India
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