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'Taxing oil cos not under petroleum ministry'

business Updated: Jul 09, 2008 17:27 IST

Petroleum Minister Murli Deora on Wednesday said his ministry cannot decide on imposing the so-called windfall profit tax on private oil producers and refineries.

"The issue does not come under my ministry," he told reporters in New Delhi. "Its for the finance ministry to decide."

The Left parties and more recently the Samajwadi Party, that is now supporting the Manmohan Singh government after the Communist withdrew their support over the nuclear deal with US, have been demanding that companies like Reliance Industries, Essar and Cairn be taxed to tied over the crisis created by high oil prices.

They have also demanded review of export oriented status of the Jamnagar refinery of Reliance.

"My dear, you would know that the law on EoUs is not in my jurisdictions. It is with the Commerce Ministry. How can I then say anything on that," he said when a reporter asked him if he was proposing review of Jamnagar's EoU status.

Petroleum Ministry officials said no ministry unilaterally can levy windfall tax as it may require Parliamentary approval.

Besides, the private firms cannot be singled out for the tax and if all standalone refineries or units with no fuel retailing are to be charged of such tax, units such as ONGC's subsidiary Mangalore Refinery, Chennai refinery of IOC and Numaligarh refinery would also come under the ambit of the new tax.

Deora said India needed the civilian nuclear deal with the US to help ease energy shortages. "After 60 years of independence, we still have shortage of electricity in India. I am supportive of the deal as it will give the people the much needed electricity and the nation energy security."