Congress to consult allies on fuel price hike(Lead)

June 1st, 2008 - 9:48 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Sonia Gandhi

New Delhi, May 31 (IANS) Worried over the possible political fallout of hiking fuel prices, the ruling Congress Saturday said it would discuss the matter with its allies before the government takes any decision, even as it sought to pass on to state governments part of the blame for rising inflation. The Congress Working Committee (CWC), which discussed the inflation that has touched 8.1 percent, apparently was of the view that a decision on petroleum products’ price hike in the wake of steep increase in international crude oil prices should be discussed with its allies first.

“The Congress can’t take a decision on its own because it is the UPA (United Progressive Alliance) government which is in power,” party general secretary Janardhan Dwivedi told reporters, a clear indication that the hike will be delayed.

Admitting that the apex decision making body of the party discussed the current economic situation in detail, he said it was also the responsibility of the state governments to take adequate measures to contain prices of essential commodities.

Briefing the media after the three-and-half-hour meeting at party president Sonia Gandhi’s residence, Dwivedi said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh explained the international economic situation to the CWC, whose meeting was attended by 35 members.

He said inflation was an international phenomenon and there was “nothing to worry and that the Congress-led government has taken adequate steps to contain it.

“But it is also the responsibility of the state governments to take enough measures to control the price rise,” he said.

Party sources said there would be an informal meeting of senior Congress leaders Sunday to come out with a “comprehensive solution” to the oil crisis and it may include the Left parties’ suggestion of revamping the tax structure.

They added that the government side at the CWC listed out subsidies for petro products as well as food grains and other items. According to the government, state-run oil marketing companies spend Rs.2,000 billion on subsiding petro products like petrol, diesel and cooking gas, whereas the government spends Rs.1,430 billion on such subsidies.

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