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 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 Liquefied Natural Gas.