The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Steel firms urged to cap prices

New Delhi, Nov. 16 (PTI): The steel ministry has taken notice of the soaring steel prices and for the first time asked producers to refrain from increasing prices regularly as it was hurting the consumer industry.

“Though the government has no role to play as the steel prices are market-driven, the user industry is suffering due to continuous price rise and we have to take care of that,” steel minister B. K. Tripathi said.

“The small-scale consumer industry has made numerous representations to the ministry in this regard. We have discussed the matter with steel majors, including Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL), Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd (RINL) and Tata Steel, and they are ready to consider it.”

Steel producers like SAIL and Tisco have reported healthy financial performance in the first half of 2003-04 and both have attributed over 50 per cent of performance to the price factor.

SAIL, which has almost turned around, reported a swing of about Rs 1,200 crore in the first six months.

Tripathi, who inaugurated the steel pavilion at the on-going India International Trade Fair, said steel production in the current financial year would cross the 35-million tonne mark.

He, however, expressed concern over the lower per capita steel consumption in the country hovering at 29 kg, which was far below the global average of about 150 kg and the average per capita consumption of 400 kg in developed countries.

Tripathi said steel exports have done exceedingly well in the first six months as these have been estimated to be 2.65 million tonnes, showing an increase of 35.6 per cent compared with the corresponding period last year.

“With six months to go, we can achieve the export target of five million tonnes in the current financial year,” steel minister added.

In tune with Vision 2020, the ministry of steel is in the process of formulating a policy with a thrust on measures to increase consumption of steel.

The advantages associated with the usage of steel are to be brought to the notice of the common man, Tripathi said, adding that the ministry has formulated a strategy to work on this.

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