Pranab woos Mamata on petrol price hike
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Last Updated: Saturday, November 05, 2011, 19:35
Kolkata: Seeking to placate the Trinammol Congress, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday said it was "perfectly legitimate" for any UPA ally to express concern on issues like petrol price hike.

"It is perfectly legitimate for any political party which is a constituent of UPA to express concern on any issue and to discuss it with the Prime Minister. They have done exactly that," Mukherjee told newsmen here after threat by UPA's second largest ally Trinamool Congress to pull out of the ruling coalition at the Centre over hike in petrol price.

On Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee's stating that the matter would be taken up with the PM after his return from abroad, Mukherjee said, "They will take up some of their concerns with the PM. I don't find anything wrong with it."

Without referring to Trinamool's allegation that the party was not consulted before the petrol price hike, Mukherjee said, "There is an EGoM. It consists of the representatives of all political parties which have a member in the union cabinet. Our partners in the coalition are members.

"Sometimes they come to the meeting (of EGoM), sometimes they don't. That is a different question. But they are members. All four partners of the UPA have representative in the EGoM.

"Only the price of petrol which was deregulated has increased. It (deregulation) did not take place today, the decision was taken on June 28, last year," he said at the National University of Juridical Sciences.

Stating that the UPA government has taken note of the protests by various political parties, Mukherjee said, "Naturally, when price is hiked and if it hits the people, the people will react. They don't like to listen to economic reasons."

"Oil companies think that their financial situation is such that they will not be able to import crude if their financial health is totally broken," Mukherjee remarked.

He said the combined loss of BPCL and HPCL in the first six months of the current fiscal was Rs 12,000 crore and IOC was also likely to be in the red.

"If the oil companies are in the red, will they be able to raise resources from market? Will they be in a position to import crude that is required?", he asked.

He said an in principle decision (to deregulate) diesel was taken, but it was decided that it would not be implemented.

Asked about Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's statement on moving more in the direction of deregulation of fuel prices, Mukherjee said, "PM is the head of government and he is an eminent economist.

"Naturally he spoke from the economist's point of view. As when decisions (on deregulation) are taken, it will be communicated to you."

On whether he would advise states to reduce taxes on petroleum products, the minister replied, "it is dangerous to comment on it. The moment you say don't impose taxes, they (states) will ask from where will we get money.

"Regarding petrol, I am not advising anything to the states," he said.


First Published: Saturday, November 05, 2011, 18:02

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