Muscat: Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) will no longer be able to enjoy subsidised cooking gas at home, according to Indian Oil ministry's decision.
"In order to reduce the estimated Rs380 billion per annum bill on subsidised LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) cylinders, the government has decided to discontinue subsidised cooking gas to four categories of consumers including foreign nationals and embassies, NRIs, overseas citizens of India (OCI) and persons of Indian origin (PIO)," sections of the Indian media reported, quoting Oil Ministry officials.
All foreign nationals and embassies in India will also not be able to enjoy subsidised cooking gas.
A subsidised cylinder in New Delhi costs Rs414 while the market rate for the same is Rs1,018.
At present, nine cylinders of subsidised cooking gas are permitted for use to each household every year.
Once these are consumed, a consumer has to buy the cylinder at market rate.
"These four categories belong to the wealthy class of people who can afford to pay the market rate for LPG," a senior official was quoted as saying.
"New connections will have to pay the market rate from day one while the process is on to bring existing consumers in this ambit. It will be notified soon," the official added.
The cost to the exchequer for selling fuel including LPG, diesel and kerosene at below market rate in this fiscal year is expected to cross Rs1,300 billion as against the budgetary allocation of Rs650 billion.
Last year, the government decided to cap the number of subsidised cylinders per household to six per year but revised it to nine earlier this year.
With the general elections due in the next six months, that cap is likely to be revised to 12 in the near future that will add to the subsidy burden.
Finance Minister P. Chidambaram has repeatedly said that he doesn't want to cross the "red line" on the fiscal deficit, which has been drawn at 4.8 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the financial year ending March.
Officially, the government says the move was aimed at trimming some of the fat from the subsidies bill but still, a line can be drawn from the Khobragade uproar to the higher cooking gas bill, a tab that all foreigners, and not just those belonging to the US, will soon have to pick up.