The government is actively considering deregulation of auto fuel prices and a decision on this will be taken soon by the cabinet, Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Murli Deora said in New Delhi on Friday.
He was speaking to reporters after taking charge as the petroleum minister for a second consecutive term. The new Minister of State, Jitin Prasada, also took charge on Friday.
"The decision regarding decontrol of prices will be taken by the cabinet,” Deora said.
At present, the government is determining the prices of auto fuels as well as kerosene and cooking gas. Deregulation is expected to help the state-run oil marketing companies narrow their losses.
An official statement later said the government "will address the issue of the need to provide fuel and petroleum products to the people at reasonable prices along with the requirement of the oil marketing companies to run profitably and efficiently".
"Policy decisions in this context will be taken shortly," the statement added.
Asked whether gas prices will also be deregulated, Deora said: "First let's do it for oil and then we will go for gas."
He, however, ruled out any timeframe to take a decision.
Deora announced on his first day in office that his ministry would focus on the manifesto promises of the Congress party, while deciding the priority areas.
He also announced a new scheme, Gramin LPG Vitrak, aimed at increasing the number of cooking gas distribution centres.
The government is also planning to strengthen urban gas distribution networks.
Deora added that efforts would be made to improve the incentives for exploration in the country by extending the current tax holiday scheme for gas exploration also.
Earlier, introducing his junior minister, Deora said Jitin Prasada's father, Jitendra Prasada was a "great friend of mine".
"At the time of 100 years of congress celebrations in Mumbai, his father was general secretary and I was directly working under him," said Deora, adding: "But, I don't want him (Jitin) to work under me."