The Federation of All-India Petroleum Traders (FAIPT) has stuck to their guns to go on a strike from September 20 closing all retail petrol pumps countrywide. This follows the breakdown of their talks with the Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry.

Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Murli Deora on Friday called upon the retail outlet dealers not to stop operations of their retail outlets and withdraw their strike call. “I had a meeting with the FAIPT office-bearers today and have urged them to postpone their strike call. The government has always considered their demands sympathetically and I am sure they will withdraw their strike call and not cause any inconvenience to the general public,” Mr. Deora told The Hindu.

A delegation of petrol pump dealers led by J.D. Seelam, MP and Ashok Badhwar, FAIPT president met Mr. Deora on the issue. Mr. Deora pointed out that the government and the oil PSUs (Public Sector Undertakings) had always been open for considering the just demands and that was the reason why the dealers' commission on petrol and diesel was raised recently.

The Ministry has refused to accede to the demand of the Federation that at least 5 per cent of the invoice value of fuel sales be paid as commission to the dealers. At present, commission is paid to petrol pump owners as a fixed margin.

The Ministry is of the view that accepting the demand will increase the burden of the oil marketing companies, which are expected to suffer losses of over Rs.50,000 crore in 2010-11 on account of fuel subsidies.

The FAIPT claims to represent 37,800 petrol pump dealers. Last week, the government had increased the dealers' commission by 9 paise a litre for petrol and 8 paise for diesel, due to which auto fuel prices had increased by 9 and 13 paise a litre.

Another major demand of FAIPT is a freeze on the establishment of new retail outlets as mushrooming growth of petrol pumps is affecting the business of existing dealers.

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