In a pilot run before a countrywide roll-out to counter undercutting by private retailers, state-run fuel retailers will revise petrol and diesel prices daily in five cities - Chandigarh, Udaipur, Vizag, Puducherry and Jamshedpur- from May 1. Until the system is in place throughout the country, public sector retailers will continue with the practice of tweaking prices on the 15th and last day of each month in all other places.
Not only will the roll-out make the price hike bearable as they would come in small doses, it may potentially set off a price war and bring real competition in a market 95 per cent of which is controlled by public sector retailers. Revising prices daily will give them a chance to match private companies who have been undercutting them in a free market in times of low oil prices. The idea of daily revision has been on the oil ministry's table since 2012, but state-run retailers, in a complacent market of high oil prices, subsidy and lack of competition, were loath to implement the idea, citing lack of connectivity and infrastructure in the hinterland.
Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said, “Daily change in prices of petroleum products is a recommendation of experts. The government has nothing to do with it... We have developed an effective model to ensure that those who can afford should not get subsidy and those who need should never be left out.”