India orders gas price rises be backdated to April 1

Tags: Petroleum
Oil minister M. Veerappa Moily has ordered that increases in gas prices, put on hold by the election authorities, be backdated to April 1, in a directive that has drawn criticism from a rival politician.

A price increase was to come into effect just days before India started voting in the polls that got underway on April 7 and run to May 12. But the Election Commission in March unexpectedly requested a deferral.

The cabinet last year approved a formula linking prices of locally produced gas to global benchmarks, that could have nearly doubled prices from the current $4.20 per million British thermal unit. A rise would benefit top producers Reliance Industries and Oil and Natural Gas Corp.

"When the proposal came to me, I rightly ordered that after the model code of conduct is lifted, (the) price may be announced for the quarter July–September and also for the quarter April–June, as per the approved guidelines by the cabinet," Moily said in a statement on Thursday.

The model code of conduct is a set of election rules that restricts government decisions that might unduly influence the country's 815 million voters.

Rival politician Gurudas Dasgupta, an opposition communist, wrote to the commission urging it to ask the oil secretary to refrain from any retroactive price hike.

Leaders such as Dasgupta and Arvind Kejriwal, the head of anti-corruption Aam Aadmi Party, say that the new prices are intended to unduly benefit Reliance, controlled by the country's richest man, Mukesh Ambani.

Moily and Reliance deny the allegations.

Demand for gas in India far outstrips domestic supply, but the government has kept prices below global market levels for producers of fertilizer and electricity, deterring investment in domestic exploration and production.

India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), widely expected to win the most seats in the election and oust Moily's Congress party-led government, has said it would review the gas pricing formula if elected.

Post new comment

E-mail ID will not be published
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

EDITORIAL OF THE DAY

  • Lawmakers must not dilute penalties for insurers on mis-selling

    The much delayed insurance laws (amendment) bill is back in the news and the positive statements of finance minister Arun Jaitley suggest that the gov

FC NEWSLETTER

Stay informed on our latest news!

INTERVIEWS

GV Nageswara Rao

MD & CEO, IDBI Federal Life

Timothy Moe

Goldman Sachs

Chander Mohan Sethi

CMD, Reckitt Benckiser India

COLUMNIST

Arun Nigavekar

New model for effective education

After interacting with students and teaching community on a ...

Zehra Naqvi

To hell and back

Here is a book that makes you wish there were ...

INTERVIEWS

William D. Green

Chairman & CEO, Accenture