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As expected: Polls over, fuel rates likely to increase again.

Petrol and diesel prices, stationary for almost two months on account of the assembly elections in four states and one Union territory, could start seeing small increments starting as early as the end of the month, with state-run fuel retailers losing about ?3 a litre on sale of the fuel because of higher international oil rates and depreciation of rupee against the dollar.

The last phase of polling in West Bengal is on April 29.Both international oil prices and exchange rates affect the import of crude oil. The average exchange rate for purchasing crude oil was ?72.29 to the dollar about a month ago compared to ?74.77 now. In the same time, the average price of crude oil has jumped by over $5 a barrel. Together, this translates into a ?3-plus per litre increase in petrol and diesel prices. India imports more than 80% of crude oil it processes and pays in dollars.

Public sector OMCs [oil marketing companies] are bleeding as they are unable to raise fuel rates because of political reasons. But, they will take a commercial call soon after April 29. Prices of petrol and diesel have been reduced marginally (four times) since February 27, a day after the Election Commission announced assembly polls.


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