The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has circulated a note for the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs (CCPA), proposing an increase in the prices of diesel, LPG and kerosene.

Terming the proposed hike “unavoidable,” Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister S. Jaipal Reddy, however, refused to disclose the quantum of increase; a decision would be taken by the CCPA, which is headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The CCPA was to have met on Tuesday evening, but the meeting was postponed for unknown reasons. But the increase in the prices of petroleum products was not on the agenda.

Mr. Reddy, who met Finance Minister P. Chidambaram on Tuesday, said he had circulated an updated version of the Cabinet note on Monday, detailing the crisis sparked by the rise in crude oil prices and the fall in the value of the rupee against the dollar, which made imports expensive.

“I have tried to acquaint the CCPA members with this matter. As I have said before, painful and difficult decisions on the price of oil products will have to be taken. [An] increase in price is unavoidable.”

Mr. Reddy said the issue would be taken up at the next meeting of the CCPA. A decision would have to be taken not only on the basis of economic facts, but also by taking into account how much the consumers could absorb. “We have to take a balanced view.”

Asked about the quantum of increase, he said he could not say to what extent the prices would be increased. “If I had the powers, it would have been done on Monday itself.”

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