New Delhi: Belying expectations, petrol prices will not be cut on Friday despite there being a scope for reducing the rates by up to Rs 1.60 a litre.

State-run oil companies, as per practice, were to revise petrol price on Friday based on the average international oil price and rupee-dollar exchange rate in the previous fortnight.

"I do not think there is any news today," a top official at one of the oil marketing companies said.

No reason was assigned for skipping the fortnightly revision, but sources linked the decision to the absence of Oil Minister S Jaipal Reddy in the capital. Reddy is Vienna attending the OPEC Ministerial meeting and is likely to return on Friday.

R S Butola, Chairman of Indian Oil Corp (IOC), the company which spearheads revision in rates of petrol, too is travelling with Reddy. Oil firms informally consult their parent ministry before revising prices.

Indian Oil, Hindustan Petroleum and Bharat Petroleum had over the past one week indicated of a scope of reducing rates from June 1.

Oil firms had last cut petrol rats by Rs 2.02 a litre with effect from June 3 in a partial rollback of the steep Rs 7.54 per litre hike effected last month. Petrol at present costs Rs 71.16 a litre in Delhi.

Sources said the last revision in rates was done keeping the average of USD 115.77 per barrel average rate of gasoline, against which domestic petrol prices are benchmarked. Gasoline rates have since fallen to about USD 109 per barrel.

But rupee-dollar rate has worsened to Rs 55.50 as against Rs 54.96 at the time of last revision. This gives a scope for cutting rates by up to Rs 1.60 a litre (excluding local sales
Meanwhile, Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas R P N Singh in Gorakhpur said the government does not plan to hike prices of kerosene and diesel in near future.

He also said the Ministry wants to introduce a "voluntary scheme" to check the subsidy given in diesel that is being availed by the affluent class as well.

"The subsidy is meant for poor people, it puts unnecessary burden on the government," Singh said.


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