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Review if world oil prices fall: Chidambaram

By Our Special Correspondent

CUDDALORE, NOV. 6. The Union Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram, today indicated that the Centre would think of reviewing the price of petroleum products if the world crude prices fell.

"It is only with deep regret that the Centre has increased the prices of petroleum products, necessitated by the steep rise in the crude oil prices in the international market," Mr. Chidambaram told a press conference here.

He said he was praying every day that the crude oil prices should ease, and having come to Chidambaram town near here, he also prayed to Lord Nataraja that the prices should fall.

Mr. Chidambaram said the Centre had resorted to the price hike "not with happiness, but out of necessity" and with the least intention of burdening the people. Last year, the crude price was ruling at $ 26-28 a barrel, but this year it had gone up to $55 a barrel.

The oil producing countries were not supplying the products free of cost or at a discount. To lessen the impact of the rising prices, the Centre had scaled down the customs and excise duties twice — in June and August. On this score, it had suffered a revenue loss of Rs. 4,400 crores, and there was no possibility of further reduction.

If the Centre offered any more concession, the food-for-work programme and the minimum job guarantee scheme would suffer a setback. For these programmes, the Centre had allocated Rs. 12,000 crores more than what the earlier Government allotted, he said.

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