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MP chorus against oil troika selloff

New Delhi, Oct. 13: Members of Parliament cutting across party lines today came out strongly against the divestment of national oil majors at a parliamentary consultative committee meeting of the petroleum ministry.

Sources said there was a “consensus” among the 28 MPs of the committee who attended the meeting that the government should not go ahead with the privatisation of Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL).

The MPs felt the government should accept the Supreme Court verdict. Last month, the apex court had ruled against divestment of the oil majors, saying that since the two were nationalised through acts of Parliament, they could be privatised only through a similar measure.

The BJP had 12 representatives at the meeting and the Shiv Sena three.

Lakshman Seth of the CPM is the only MP from Bengal on the committee. CPM leader Vijaya Raghavan from Kerala and the CPI’s .R. Dasari from Andhra Pradesh were the other two Left MPs who attended the meeting. The three Congress MPs present included Oscar Fernandes and Rajubhai Parmar.

Petroleum minister Ram Naik reportedly highlighted the net profit made by public sector companies — over Rs 23,251.7 crore during the financial year ended March 31, 2003. Leading the pack are ONGC and IOC, boasting net profits of Rs 10,529 crore and Rs 6,114 crore respectively.

Another important development has been the turnaround of Bongaigaon Refineries and Petrochemicals Ltd. It made a net profit of Rs 178.5 crore as compared to a loss of Rs 199 crore last year. Numaligarh Refineries Ltd also showed remarkable improvement with its net profit going up by 42 per cent to touch the Rs 174.6-crore mark.

The minister said the public sector oil companies will have to shoulder a subsidy burden of Rs 8,300 crore in the current fiscal as the government has decided not to increase the price of domestic LPG and kerosene supplied through the public distribution system.

Had the government not taken this decision, the price of LPG would have to be raised by Rs 105 per cylinder and that of kerosene by Rs 3 per litre.

Releasing the four-year performance report of the petroleum sector, Naik said most of the milestones listed in the Prime Minister’s India Hydrocarbon Vision 2025 have been crossed.

He added that the number of LPG customers across the country have gone up to 7.1 crore households and connections are now available off the shelf.

The minister pointed out that the country has also achieved self-sufficiency in the refining of crude oil, with the capacity having gone up to 116.97 million tonnes against the annual consumption of 103.6 million tonnes of petroleum products.

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