While defending the hike in natural gas prices from $4.2 mbtu to $8.4 mbtu, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram on Friday hinted at subsidized gas rates for the power and fertilizer sectors to protect consumers from a huge financial burden from April next year.

Briefing journalists here about the decision of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) to hike gas prices based on the Rangarajan Committee formula from April 1, 2014, Mr. Chidambaram said the move to almost double the gas prices was taken in view of the dramatic decline in investments in the oil and gas sector. This had to be made up by importing expensive Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). “The only way to correct this is to give a reasonable price which will attract this investment. For every unit of gas that we do not produce, it does not mean we are not consuming that gas. We are importing that one unit,” he said.

The unusually long meeting saw some Ministers raising objections to the gas price hike.