Steel enthusiasm runs high
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- Published 1.09.08
|Steel minister Ram Vilas Paswan (centre) at a conference in New Delhi on Monday. (PTI)|
New Delhi, Sept. 1: The government is ready to take steps to lower steel prices, though it expects tariffs to fall without its intervention on the back of a softening trend in global markets.
“According to present indications, a further correction in the prices of steel is expected,” steel minister Ram Vilas Paswan said.
He said the government had already taken measures to stabilise prices and would take further steps if the need arose.
Steel firms have not raised prices since May, helping the government in its efforts to contain inflation which stood at 12.40 per cent for the week ended August 16.
However, rising prices of raw materials such as iron ore and coke have squeezed margins of steel firms.
Paswan said prices of essential raw materials should be maintained at reasonable levels.
“The prices of critical inputs such as coking coal have increased more sharply than the prices of steel. This is a cause for concern.”
The minister said the government was planning to increase the tax on iron ore export to ensure adequate supply to steel firms.
The industry has requested the government to raise the export duty on iron ore to 35 per cent from 15 per cent to check export and raise supply, which will lower input cost.
Earlier, the steel ministry had proposed a hike in the export duty on ore to 20 per cent.
On an export duty on finished steel to increase domestic availability, Paswan said, “When prices in the market are stable, we will not do something which is against the industry.” Expenses on iron ore alone contribute around 25 per cent to the total cost of steel making.
At a meeting with steel secretary P.K. Rastogi, steel producers today sought the reimposition of import duty on steel products to check a surge in cheap import.
Steel prices have softened by about $150 in the international market in over a month, opening up options for secondary producers to go for duty-free imports.
The secretary had convened the meeting to deliberate upon the pricing mechanism of producers.
Earlier, there was an import duty of five per cent on steel products.
India imports about seven million tonnes of steel annually, while its exports stand at over 4.5 million tonnes.