gfiles magazine

October 19, 2012

Circus of oil pricing

Vol. 6 | issue 7 | August 2012
petroleum pric
Circus of oil pricing
It makes no sense to first make the oil marketing companies sell fuel at below cost and then compensate them with a subsidy. Also, when the oil marketing companies are making such hefty profits, are the latest price hikes justifiable?
by Neeraj Mahajan
In a recent advertisement, the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas claimed to have paid Rs 1,38,500 crore as subsidy to Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) even as it collected only Rs 83,700 crore as taxes. The government’s claim that it had to reimburse the entire subsidy burden, however, seems to be an eye-wash, as it generally reimburses 60 per cent of the under-recovery to oil companies. The remaining 40 per cent comes from upstream companies like ONGC and GAIL.
Now 60 per cent of the Rs 1,38,500 crore paid as subsidy to the oil companies comes to Rs Rs 83,100 crore, which is Rs 600 crore less than the amount it collected as taxes, with the remaining burden being passed onto the upstream companies. This means that the Government simply paid the subsidy from the tax payer’s money. What is more worrisome is that the government has not been paying the subsidy amount due to the oil companies on time as a result of which they have had to borrow money and pay exorbitant interest. But, then if a financial loss is fully compensated, can it still be called a loss, and if it is so, why is it not reflected in the balance sheets of the OMCs?
According to recent disclosures under the Right to Information Act, none of the public sector companies, singly or jointly, have suffered any loss since the year 2000. Rather, as per the reply to an RTI, the oil marketing companies had collectively logged a net profit of Rs 25,000 crore in 2010-2011. A look at the financial figures of the three OMCs reveals a turnover of Rs 8,33,000 crore and a combined profit of Rs 6,177 crore in 2011-12. The individual share of profit is Rs 3,955 crore (IOC), Rs 1,311 crore (BPCL), and Rs 911 crore (HPCL)...................READ MORE

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