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Cooking gas quota to go up to 12

Moily: Strategy shift

New Delhi, Jan. 17: The number of subsidised domestic cooking gas cylinder per year will be increased to 12 from 9 by the cabinet at its meeting next week, following a strong pitch by Congress party vice-president Rahul Gandhi here today.

“Yes, the cap will be increased… The cabinet will take a view (on it) soon,” oil minister M. Veerappa Moily said soon after Gandhi made a demand to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the All India Congress Committee (AICC) session here.

“I want to tell the Prime Minister — Pradhan Mantriji, nine cylinders se baat nahin ban rahi. Humko 12 cylinders chahiye. Hindustan ke mahilaon ko 12 cylinders chahiye. (Prime Minister, nine cylinders are not enough. We need 12 cylinders, India’s women need 12 cylinders),” Gandhi said. His remarks were greeted with loud applause.

Oil ministry officials said a cabinet note would be moved soon and it could be taken up as early as next week.

There have been demands, including from the Congress party, to raise the annual limit of subsidised LPG cylinders to 12 from nine. The demand grew after the oil companies earlier this month increased the price of non-subsidised cylinder by a steep Rs 219.50 to Rs 1,270 per cylinder (in Calcutta). Exactly a year ago the quota of cheap cylinders was raised to nine from six.

Moily had earlier stated that nearly 90 per cent of the 15 crore LPG consumers use up to nine cylinders a year and only 10 per cent have to buy the additional requirement at the market price.

If the quota is raised to 12, about 97 per cent of LPG consumers would be covered by subsidised LPG, he had said.

Increasing the limit to 12 would result in an additional fuel subsidy burden of Rs 3,300 crore-5,800 crore to the government, officials said.

They said state-owned oil companies lose Rs 762.70 per cylinder on the sale of subsidised LPG, and the government will have to pay a higher subsidy if the quota is raised.

With a view to cutting its subsidy bill, the government had initially capped the supply of subsidised LPG cylinders to six per household in a year in September 2012.

During the first half of the fiscal, state-owned companies have incurred a revenue loss of Rs 60,907 crore for selling diesel, kerosene and LPG cylinder at government controlled rates. Of this, losses due to diesel account for Rs 28,266 crore, LPG Rs 18,585 crore and kerosene Rs 14,057 crore.

 
 
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