I take this opportunity to wish you, your family and your dear ones a very Happy and Prosperous 2016! The New Year springs up riveting moments. Undoubtedly, we are at an advantage, as global crude oil prices have plummeted to nearly 11-year low and we could reap the benefits as the fourth largest consumer in the world. I have come across various experts’ reports that suggest that if oil prices continue to remain at these levels, India could save close to $60 billion, or 3%, of the GDP. This environment also helps our Government to bring in pro-poor reforms, consumer friendly initiatives and modernise the oil and gas sector.
Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas accounts for facilitating and monitoring at least 35% of the energy demand in the country. The year 2015 had been quite eventful for the oil and gas sector. Various initiatives were rolled out such as the PAHAL and GiveItUp to remove bottlenecks in the sector. These were innovative drives and we have drawn the foundation to offer better services to consumers. I would like to categorically bring to focus that 2016 would be ‘The Year of Consumers.’
While the footfall received at refuelling stations (Retail Outlets) and LPG distributors is the highest in the country compared to any other sector in the country, still close to 5 lakh women every year succumb to ailments for using hazardous cooking fuel. This is an alarming situation and it’s the endeavour of this government under leadership of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi to provide our mothers and sisters a hassle-free and hygienic cooking environment.
Our focus in 2016 would be to offer “3As — Availability, Accessibility and Affordability – of clean and green fuel.” Our guiding principles for policy formulation would be – a consumer-focused approach, prior consultation in policy making and transparency in decision making. The government under the leadership of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi would take every step to offer clean domestic cooking gas to every household in the country and completely eliminate the polluting chulhas.
I would like to thank the 5.8 million LPG consumers who have given up their subsidies. This small effort by an individual would serve a bigger cause towards nation building. While rolling out the services, Government would ensure that the subsidies reach the targeted and those in need of it. It is in this spirit it has been decided that individuals (along with spouse) with more than Rs 10 lakh taxable income will not be provided subsidy in LPG from 1 January 2016. The PAHAL scheme, which has being recognised by Guinness Book of World Records as the largest cash transfer programme,brings in a transparent mechanism and eliminate from the system fake and those individuals indulged in corrupt practices. The Government is working towards further reducing the fuel subsidies and a targeted mechanism for kerosene subsidy would also be rolled out in the due course.
After the launch of PAHAL, the oil marketing companies have witnessed around 6.4% growth in LPG demand during the first six months of 2015. These numbers are going to rise, as clean cooking fuel heads for every kitchen in the country. During the same period, the demand for auto-LPG has risen by about 7.5%, which earlier was witnessing a negative growth. This brings to limelight the end of black marketing of subsidised domestic cooking gas.
We would soon auction marginal oil and gas fields based on investor-friendly fiscal terms, which for the first time in the country offers marketing and pricing freedom to explorers along with fresh guidelines that ensure no government interference. This would be one of the steps towards achieving the milestone given by Prime Minister to reduce import dependency by 10% by 2022.
On the path to make ourselves energy-rich, it is important to protect our environment. My Government is working towards creating a natural gas based economy in the country, which is not just cost effective but also in sync with our commitment towards cleaner environment as made in COP 21. With the expansion of pipeline networks and penetration of city-gas distribution lines to larger areas, the demand for gas volumes would get major boost. This would effectively lead India towards a mature gas market and also push manufacturing opportunities for industries under Make in India campaign. Promotion of Bio-fuel is another area, which the Government would like to focus in a major way in 2016.
The idea behind starting this blog space is to communicate informally and regularly with you. With the help of technology, I would like everyone to be aware of what policy reforms we are taking and how it would help the country to progress. I look forward to your valuable feedbacks and suggestions.
Once again, wishing everyone a joyous New Year!