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Steel regulator to vet price, distribution

New Delhi, June 12: The steel ministry proposes to have a regulator for the industry that will monitor both prices and distribution.

The ministry has decided in principle to set up a National Steel Regulatory Commission ‘in national interest’.

“I have accepted a proposal to set up a steel regulator. I will take it to the government within the next three months,” steel minister Ram Vilas Paswan said.

Paswan said the proposal to set up the regulatory commission had come from the National Steel Consumers’ Council. Major steel producers have also agreed to it.

Paswan said the proposal will be placed before the government for a final decision. It will be an independent commission on the lines of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) and the power regulatory authority, the minister said.

The steel ministry will also recommend a cut in the import duty on steel scrap from the present level of 5 per cent to zero, based on proposals from both consumers as well as producers, Paswan said.

The ministry has also decided that the domestic requirements of steel should be met before exporting steel.

The minister said there was a consensus on this issue between the consumers and producers of steel.

The ministry has set a steel production target of 60 million tonnes by 2012 and 100 million tonnes by 2020.

At present,. steel production in the country is 36.15 million tonnes, of which the private sector contributes 20 million tonnes.

Asked about the substantial dependence on the private sector to meet the needs of the enhanced production targets, the minister said steel had become a lifeline product and, if required, the Essential Commodities Act and other regulations would be invoked to meet production targets.

Paswan also said steel prices will be advertised by the Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) as and when any change takes place.

The ministry has also set itself a target to increase the per capita consumption from the present level of 29 kgs to 140 kgs by 2020.

Paswan said his ministry was aware that steel producers were faced with the paucity of good-quality coking coal.

The ministry had issued directives to source the material to tide over the situation, he added.

On the demand for restoration of DEPB benefits for exports, he said no decision had been taken so far.

Paswan also said he was in favour of examining whether there should be curbs on exports of iron ore.

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