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Benchmark set for fuel price rollback

New Delhi, July 9: The government today said it might roll back the hike in petrol and diesel prices if international crude rates stabilise around $50-60 a barrel levels.

“Yes, we will cut prices if crude stabilises for sometime between $50 and $60 per barrel,” petroleum minister Murli Deora told reporters.

Crude was trading around $70 a barrel last week when petrol and diesel prices were hiked by Rs 4 a litre and Rs 2 a litre, respectively. However, crude prices have been falling since then and was trading around $60 a barrel today.

Deora said the price hike was unavoidable as India depended on imported crude to meet 75 per cent of its domestic needs. State-owned oil firms were projected to lose Rs 4,870 crore in revenues every month on selling petrol, diesel, LPG cylinder and kerosene below cost. “To cover this, retail prices were required to be increased by Rs 6.94 per litre for petrol, Rs 4.11 a litre for diesel, Rs 96.68 per domestic LPG cylinder and Rs 16.01 per litre for kerosene. However, the government increased the price of petrol only by Rs 4 per litre and of diesel by Rs 2 a litre,” Deora said.

The day after the budget, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee had said that speculators and cartels might be working behind the scenes to jack up prices at a time when Europe and the US were still in the grips of the recession.

Mukherjee had proposed the setting up of an expert panel to work out a strategy on petroleum pricing.

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