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After petrol price hike, EGOM meet on LPG gas cylinder subsidy deferred
September, 16th 2011

The meeting of a panel of ministers headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on limiting the supply of subsidised LPG has been deferred after apparent objections from some UPA constituents.

The Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) was scheduled to meet at 1330 hours today, but the meeting was preponed to 1230 hours. However, the meeting was called off at the last moment.

Official sources said the meeting was called off "due to non-availability" of certain members of the panel and no new dates have been notified. The meet was to consider limiting the supply of subsidised LPG cylinders to 4-6 per household in a year to cut down the government's subsidy outgo by over Rs 12,000 crore.

However, the move was opposed by key UPA allies, the DMK and TMC. DMK leader and Fertiliser Minister M K Azhagiri had decided not to attend the meeting to show his party's opposition to the proposal, sources in the Chennai-based party said.

The Trinamool Congress, too, was opposed to the move, but its representative in the EGoM and Railway Minister, Dinesh Trivedi, was to attend the meeting to voice his party's strong opposition to the proposal.

Other members of the EGoM include NCP leader and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, Road Transport Minister C P Joshi, Oil Minister S Jaipal Reddy and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia.

Both the petroleum and finance ministries were keen on the proposal, as it would have plugged the diversion of subsidised LPG for commercial use and cut down the government's subsidy outgo.

The last meeting of the EGoM, which considered the recommendations of the Task Force on Direct Transfer of Subsidies on Kerosene, LPG and Fertiliser, had deferred a decision on limiting the supply of subsidised LPG.

The limited supply of subsidised LPG would be for those who own a car, two-wheeler, house or figure in the income-tax list. At present, records of LPG distributors of public sector companies show that many households are taking as many as 20-30 cylinders each year.

The EGoM was to consider giving every household only 4-6 LPG cylinders at a subsidised price of Rs 395.35 in Delhi and asking them to pay the market price of Rs 666 per bottle for any requirement beyond that.

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