The ministries of oil, finance and commerce, on Thursday, sought approval from the Election Commission (EC) to double natural gas prices to about $8 from next month, expand the scope of the ADR/GDR scheme, and move ahead with the proposal to liberalise the overseas investment policy in the Railways, respectively, as the model code of conduct is in force.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) had, in December last year, decided to price all domestically produced gas by public and private sector firms at an average price of LNG imports into India and benchmark global gas rates from April 1.

The price, to be applicable from April 1, is to be announced sometime next week, and before that Oil Secretary Saurabh Chandra met Chief Election Commissioner V. S. Sampath. Officials said Mr. Chandra submitted papers pertaining to the new gas pricing formula to the EC. The price formula was approved by the Cabinet months before the code of conduct for coming general elections came into force. The EC will give its decision after studying the case.

The Finance Ministry, on its part, has sought EC approval to expand the scope of the ADR/GDR scheme to permit companies to raise funds from overseas markets on the strength of debt instruments such as G-Secs and corporate bonds held by them.

At present, Indian companies issue American depository receipts and global depository receipts to foreign investors against underlying value of shares. Although the scheme was announced by Finance Minister P. Chidambaram in his Interim Budget, the government requires EC’s permission to launch it as the model code of conduct is in force. The Ministry of Commerce and Industry has also sought EC’s nod to move ahead with its proposal to liberalise the overseas investment policy in the Railways. The Cabinet can take a decision on the matter only after the EC’s nod.

“As the model of conduct is in force on account of the upcoming general elections, the government has sought the EC’s nod on the matter,” sources said.

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