Gas price hike to balance reforms, interest of poor: Pradhan

Tags: News
As government mulls over the impending natural gas price hike, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan today said a right decision will be taken at the right time by balancing the urgency of reforms with the interest of the poor.

"We are examining all aspects of the issue. We are deeply into it. A right decision will be taken at the right time," he said.

Refusing to speculate on the timing or what the decision will be, Pradhan said that bringing back the "derailed" economy on track is the top most priority of the Narendra Modi government and it will do whatever it takes for bring back the momentum.

He said the government wants to stabilise the economy which had been made "bankrupt" by the previous UPA government. "The first task is to stabilise the economy."

The NDA government, Pradhan said, is for reforms as also protecting the interest of the poor.

"Economic reforms are not anti-poor. Economic reforms are infact pro-poor. We need to strike a balance between the two and we will do it. I do not want to say anything more than this right now," he added.

The first increase in natural gas prices in four years was to be originally effective from April 1. However, before a new rate could be unveiled, the general elections were announced and its implementation got deferred.

Last week, a top oil ministry official said a decision on the issue will be taken before July 1.

The ministry had on April 21 told Reliance Industries, which was made to sell natural gas from its eastern offshore KG-D6 fields at the old rate of USD 4.2 per million British thermal unit even after its term had expired, that a new rate would be announced by July 1.

The ministry will announce a new rate once its gets clarity on implementation of the Rangarajan formula, which would double the gas price, from the top.

Pradhan refused to say if his ministry will go to the Cabinet again for a review or approval of the Rangarajan formula which was approved by the previous UPA government.

The ministry is expected to make a presentation on the issues pertaining to the oil and gas sector to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in next few days and a clear direction on how to proceed on gas pricing will emerge after that.

If the Prime Minister gives a go ahead for announcing a new rate as per the Rangarajan formula approved by the previous government in December last year, an announcement will be made forthwith.

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