We will ensure impact of oil shock is minimal: PM

June 4th, 2008 - 10:24 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, June 4 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Wednesday sought to temper down the feeling of Indians at large over the 9.5-11 percent hike in prices of petroleum fuels, saying the move was inevitable given the precarious current circumstances. “There is a gap of almost 90 percent which still has to be bridged,” the prime minister said in an address to the nation after his cabinet allowed a hike in the prices of petroleum products.

In what sounded as a passionate pre-national election speech, the prime minister also listed some of the social development programmes of his government such as the job guarantee scheme for the entire rural India before giving his rationale for the steep hike in petroleum product prices.

He also spoke of the other initiatives of his four-year-old United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in ensuring high economic growth, while asserting that the hikes allowed Wednesday did not touch the average citizen’s kerosene.

“Our government is committed to ensuring that the impact of this global oil shock is minimal,” Manmohan Singh said in a televised address to the nation.

“We wish to protect as large a section of our society as possible from its effects. This has been at great cost to government finances and to the economy as a whole,” he said.

His comments came after the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs allowed a Rs.5 per litre hike in petrol prices, Rs.3 per litre in diesel and Rs.50 per cylinder in cooking gas, while cutting excise and import duties on crude oil and petroleum products.

“Business cannot go on like this for ever. We need to learn to adjust to this new international scenario,” said the Prime Minister, in an obvious reference to crude prices scaling astronomical heights in global markets.

“We need to pay economic cost of petroleum products. There are limits to which we can keep consumer prices unaffected by rising import costs. Our oil companies cannot go on incurring losses.”

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