CCI to seek info from state oil firms on petrol pricing

Fair trade regulator Competition Commission of India (CCI) has said it will seek details from oil marketing companies on their petrol pricing mechanism to probe the alleged cartelisation among them in fixing the fuel price.

The CCI had written to the petroleum ministry on the issue, but the ministry said it had no role in deciding the price of petrol as it was a deregulated commodity now. "There was some ambiguity earlier on whether it (pricing) is coming from petroleum ministry or it is driven by the oil companies. Now, since we have the written comments from the ministry, if we proceed, we will proceed on with the oil companies," said CCI chairman Ashok Chawla.

"Prima facie, the perception (of cartelisation) was there. Petrol prices, which are supposed to be deregulated as far as the government policy is concerned, if they move up and down in a very very parallel and similar fashion and even temporarily they move in same direction, then that would be the prima facie," said Chawla.

He was replying to queries about CCI's investigation into an alleged cartelisation in fixing petrol prices, which are generally hiked or slashed together by all three state-run oil marketing companies, Indian Oil, BPCL and HPCL.

"We wrote to the oil ministry in the first instance, saying whether the pricing by companies is done in a particular manner under the guidance of the Petroleum Ministry, which ensures that prices are almost close to each other and they are moved up or down at the same point in time," the CCI chairman said.

"They (petroleum ministry) have given us a reply, which clearly indicates that they are in no way responsible. On petrol, which is deregulated, they said, whatever is done is being done on the basis of some pricing formula. It is not our concern, that is what the petroleum ministry has said," Chawla said.

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