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Post-poll: Brace for up to Rs 5 and Rs 3 per litre raise in petrol, diesel prices




New Delhi, May 7 (IANS) Petrol and diesel prices may increase sharply soon after new government comes to power at the Centre with oil companies looking to raise the retail price of the two transport fuels between Rs 3-5 per litre in phases and make up for losses they incurred by keeping the prices at artificially low levels in the run up to elections 2019.

Government sources said that oil companies sold petrol at almost Rs 5 per litre discount and diesel at Rs 3 per litre discount in March and April when average crude oil price of Indian basket hit a high of about $ 67 a barrel and $ 71 barrel respectively. At this level of crude oil prices (of over $70 a barrel), petrol was priced at over Rs 78 a litre and diesel over Rs 70 a litre in August, 2018.

It is, however, priced at around Rs 73 and Rs 66.66 per litre now respectively suggesting that oil marketing companies (OMCs) losing again heavily on retail sale of the two products.

“Oil PSUs have avoided hiking oil prices in tandem with global crude rates for almost two months now and the pattern may well continue till the end of May when elections gets over. So, it would not come as a surprise if domestic oil prices witness a sharp spike after the election season comes to a close unless the new government issues fresh advisory to stagger the required hike to prevent a public outrage,” said an energy sector expert of a global audit and consulting form who did not wish to be named.

OMCs have been soft on increasing petrol and diesel prices since the beginning of 2019 but it has become more pronounced from March when election dates were announced. Since March, there have been numerous days when both petrol and diesel prices have remained static despite sharp movement in global oil prices.

While experts term this a big loss for oil companies, officials in leading oil sector PSUs said that as the retail price of petrol and diesel are determined on the basis of global oil prices in trailing 15 day period and also as prices are determined on the basis of movement of international petrol and diesel prices and not crude oil, retail prices could remain static even through crude prices move.

While oil companies have built losses on sale of petrol and diesel by not carrying forward the requisite hikes during election time, they have not shied from passing any cut in retail price of the auto fuel when international crude price has shown some softening in the month of May. Petrol price has been cut by almost 7 paisa and diesel by 5 paisa since May 4.

“We have to remember companies like Indian Oil Corporation, Hindustan Petroleum, and Bharat petroleum are all government run companies. So even if petrol and diesel prices are, so called, freed from any administered control, government still continues to use its hold over the companies to get prices that they feel is right for a particular time,” said an official source.

This is not the first time that government has controlled the price of petrol and diesel. During Karnataka state elections last year, petrol and diesel prices remained unchanged for a 19-day period despite rising global crude oil prices. And soon after polls, there was a non-stop 16-day hike period, resulting in an overall rise of approximately Rs 3.5 in both petrol and diesel rates.

The same trend was observed during the Gujarat elections in 2017 when oil PSUs had stopped revising/increasing fuel prices 14 days prior to polling.

(Sidebar to the story)

  • Average crude price (Indian basket) in August 2018: $ 72 a barrel
  • Petrol price in August: Rs 78.5 a litre in Delhi
  • Diesel price In August: Rs 70 a litre in Delhi
  • Average crude price (Indian basket) in April 2019: $71 a barrel
  • Petrol price in April: Rs 73 a litre in Delhi
  • Diesel price in April: Rs 66.5 a litre in Delhi

(Subhash Narayan can be contacted at [email protected])


Global markets under pressure over fear of coronavirus spread




Stock Market Down

Mumbai, Jan 24 : Fears that the outbreak of coronavirus in China may disrupt economic activity and global growth has sent the stock markets tumbling.

Chinese health authorities on Friday said that 830 cases of pneumonia caused by coronavirus were confirmed in 29 provincial-level regions in the country. The pneumonia has so far claimed 25 lives.

A sharp adverse reaction from Asian, US and European markets was witnessed because China is entering one of its busiest travel periods on account of its Lunar New Year holiday. The virus outbreak could hurt demand.

On Thursday, Chinese stock markets logged its biggest slide in eight months. However, Indian markets closed higher as the oil prices plunged significantly. The global oil benchmark, Brent slipped to $62 a barrel as the virus outbreak in China may dent fuel demand.

Meanwhile official sources told IANS that though over 500 Indian students study in Wuhan city’s medical colleges and universities, most of them had left for home for the Chinese New Year holidays.

Deaths due to the virus have revived memories of the SARS epidemic, caused by a coronavirus, which killed nearly 800 people and infected more than 8,000 others across the world in 2002-2003.

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SC stays NCLAT order on RoC plea for changes in Tata-Mistry verdict




Cyrus Mistry

New Delhi, Jan 24 : In a major development in the Tata Sons-Cyrus Mistry row, the Supreme Court on Thursday stayed the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal’s (NCLAT) order dismissing the Registrar of Company’s (RoC) plea to modify its verdict on the Tata Sons matter.

Tata Sons had challenged in the apex court the NCLAT’s January 6 order on conversion of Tata Sons from a public to a private company.

Agreeing to hear the Tata Sons’ plea, the apex court on Friday issued a notice to the parties concerned. The three judge bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde will hear the matter along with the main plea filed by Tata Sons against NCLAT’s verdict.

The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) had on January 6 rejected the plea by the RoC to modify the appellate tribunal’s judgement in the Tata-Mistry case.

The NCLAT had in its December 18 verdict termed the RoC’s decision to allow conversion of Tata Sons from a public to private company as illegal, while the RoC had filed a plea at the appellate tribunal to remove the word “illegal” from its verdict, among other observations.

The two-judge bench headed by NCLAT Chairman Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya had observed that the judgment did not cast any aspersions on the RoC.

Posting the matter for hearing after four weeks, the Supreme Court had, on January 10, stayed the NCLAT order reinstating Cyrus Mistry as Tata Sons Chairman. Chief Justice S.A. Bobde said the NCLAT had granted a prayer not made.

However, Mistry has already made a statement that he is no longer interested in taking up the chairmanship of Tata Sons.

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Swamy warns against Air India sale, wants House panel to vet his note

It has been reliably learnt that the Rajya Sabha member had expressed reservations over privatisation of Air India the meeting of a Parliamentary consultative committee earlier this month.




Subramanian Swamy

New Delhi, Jan 23: The government’s plan to sell national carrier Air India may face political and legal headwinds with senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy raising the red flag against the decision.

Days before the launch of bidding process by inviting Expressions of Interest (EoI) from potential suitors, Swamy has warned against such move, saying the issue was currently being discussed by a Parliamentary panel.

“Right now, it (Air India disinvestment) is before the consultative committee and I am a member of that. I have been asked to give a note which will be discussed in the next meeting. They can’t go ahead without that,” Swamy told IANS.

“If they do, I will go to court. They know that too,” he cautioned.

A vocal opponent of Air India privatisation, Swamy had earlier suggested to list 49 per cent of Air India shares on stock exchanges while government holds 51 per cent in the carrier as an alternative to selling its entire stake to private companies.

It has been reliably learnt that the Rajya Sabha member had expressed reservations over privatisation of Air India the meeting of a Parliamentary consultative committee earlier this month.

After its failed first attempt, the Modi government has shown great zeal this time to sell Air India. It is set to offer a sweetened deal to potential buyers this time around by removing a large chunk of the debt and liabilities from the airline books.

Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri had earlier said that Air India will be shut down, in case the disinvestment exercise is not successful.

Sources told IANS that the preliminary information memorandum (PIM) inviting EoI has been tentatively scheduled to be unveiled on January 27.

Air India is proposed to be sold along with its subsidiary Air India Express and ground-handling joint venture company Air India Singapore Airport Terminal Services Ltd (AISATS) in which it has 50 per cent stake.

Air India on January 10 came out with tender for engaging aircraft asset management companies for carrying out technical audit of its entire fleet.

A Ministerial panel on Air India chaired by Home Minister Amit Shah on January 7 approved the draft EoI and a share purchase agreement (SPA) for the airline’s disinvestment.

(Nirbhay Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])

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