No hike in steel price till August first week

May 23rd, 2008 - 5:55 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, May 23 (IANS) There would be no increase in steel prices till the first week of August as per an agreement between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and steel manufacturers, union Steel Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said Friday. “For three months beginning May 7 there will be no increase in steel prices, though there is a considerable hike in the international market. India’s steel prices will remain unchanged for three months ending Aug 7,” Paswan said while releasing his ministry’s four-year report card ‘Forging New Frontiers’.

Paswan, however, reiterated his commitment to take care of the interests of consumers as well as industry. He said he was not against revising steel prices in keeping with increase in raw material.

“If raw material prices increase in the international market, domestic steel producers have to revise their rates too. The ministry has constituted a Steel Pricing Monitoring Committee (SPMC) to monitor prices of various categories of steel products,” Paswan said.

Regarding the demand of industry players to roll back export duty after they agreed to reduce steel prices, Pawan said the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) was looking into the matter and his ministry had a positive approach in this matter.

“The finance ministry has to take the final decision. All aspects are being looked into. Consultations to withdraw import duty on scraps with finance ministry are on. Inter-ministerial consultations are also going on, and my ministry will play a positive role in this regard,” he said.

The steel producers after meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh May 7 agreed to reduce the price of flat steel by Rs.4,000 per tonne, and structural steel by Rs.2,000 per tonne.

They were upset by the May 10 notification of the finance ministry May 10 that notified export duty on 15 steel and steel products ranging from five percent to 15 percent.

Industry lobby Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) made a representation to Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and sought withdrawal of export duty in the interests of investments of over Rs.1,000 billion.

The apex industry chamber referred to a survey of the state-owned Reserve Bank of India (RBI), which found that “gross profit margin ratios of 105 iron and steel companies declined in the second quarter of 2007-08 vis-a-vis first quarter”.

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