The Congress Core Group is learnt to have asked Finance Minister P Chidambaram to consider rolling back last weeks increase in excise duty on diesel.
The political step is being seen as a compromise between the Congress decision to raise diesel prices,and the Trinamool Congresss demand for cutting the increase by Rs 3 per litre. This midway formula is similar to the Core Groups decision to ask Congress-ruled states to raise the cap on subsidised cooking gas cylinders to nine a year from the current six,but keeping the ceiling lower than the 12 that the Trinamool has demanded,sources said.
The Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs last Thursday raised the price of diesel by Rs 5 per litre,of which Rs 1.50 was due to an increase in excise duty. Should the duty hike be rolled back,the net relief at pumps inclusive of value added tax which varies from state to state would be between Rs 1.70 and Rs 2 per litre of the fuel,the sources said.
The rollback decision would be conveyed to Mamata Banerjee but the official announcement might come later so opposition parties that have called a countrywide strike on Thursday cannot claim credit,the sources said.
The downward moderation in diesel,they said,could be offset by raising excise duty on petrol,when its price usually heads south in winter.
As a thumb rule,a Re-1 cut in excise duty on diesel is equivalent to a Rs-3.50 cut on petrol. When petrol prices fall,the difference could be mopped up by raising excise duty, the sources said.
The CCPA had approved a Rs 5.30 per litre cut in excise duty on petrol to keep its retail price unchanged.
Cong-ruled states to raise LPG cylinder cap to 9
Congress-ruled states were asked Wednesday to raise the number of subsidised cylinders from the proposed six to nine per household in a year. The party has decided that our Chief Ministers in the Congress-ruled states will provide nine subsidised cylinders annually to each household, said AICC general secretary Janardhan Dwivedi. ENS