NEW DELHI : M Veerappa Moily on Tuesday said the Cabinet is likely to decide on raising the cap on the number of subsidized cooking gas refills this week, even as the oil minister launched the sale of 5-kg cylinders in the Capital’s petrol pumps.
“After our vice-president Rahul Gandhi said nine cylinders are not enough, I have moved a Cabinet note to increase the quota to 12. I think the Cabinet is likely to consider the proposal this week,” Moily said after launching the sale of 5-kg cooking gas (LPG) cylinders at petrol pumps in the national capital.
Rahul had at Friday’s All India Congress Committee session made a strong pitch for raising the annual cap from nine at present to 12 in a year for each household.
Moily said over 89% of the 15 crore bottled cooking gas consumers use up to nine cylinders in a year and only 10% have to buy the additional requirement at market price. If the quota is raised to 12, about 97% of the consumers would be covered by subsidized supplies.
Increasing the limit to 12 would result in an additional fuel subsidy burden of Rs 3,300-Rs 4,000 crore. The government already incurs about Rs 46,000 crore per annum to subsidies cooking gas. The government had initially capped the supply of subsidized domestic cylinders to six per household annually in September 2012 in a bid to cut its subsidy bill. The quota was raised to nine in January 2013.
Consumers who have exhausted their quota have to buy LPG at the market price of Rs 1,258 per cylinder. Subsidized LPG costs Rs 414 per cylinder in Delhi. Moily said the price of subsidized LPG hasn’t been raised even though international prices have gone up.
“We import 40% of our LPG,” he said, adding that the 5-kg cylinders being made available at petrol pumps in 24 cities would be extended throughout the country.
Customers can walk into a petrol pump with proof of identity and walk out with a 5-kg cylinder, he said. The 5-kg cylinders would be sold at petrol pumps for Rs 585.Cooking gas cylinders were until now sold only by 13,088 LPG distributors or dealers of state-owned firms. Now, the convenient 5-kg bottle would also be available at some of the 50,392 petrol pumps across the country.
Moily said the 5-kg cylinders would initially be available at 18 petrol pumps in the national capital.