Steel price hike ruled out, cut might follow (Lead)

August 22nd, 2008 - 9:01 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 22 (IANS) Faced with skyrocketing inflation that touched 12.63 percent for the week ended Aug 9, the government Friday ruled out any upward revision in the prices of steel products, and called for a reduction following softening of global prices. “Since global price of steel is softening, we do not see any immediate reason to go for any upward revision. Instead, the companies should think in terms of further reduction in the prices of steel,” said Steel Secretary P.K. Rastogi here.

Rastogi also favoured a long-term arrangement between steel companies and miners on the price band of the public sector undertaking (PSU) mining firm National Mineral Development Corp (NMDC).

Chairman and managing director of state-owned Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) S.K. Roongta said the company would maintain the current price.

“We will maintain the current prices,” Rungta told reporters on the sidelines of a press conference of Steel Minister Ram Vilas Paswan.

“There is no immediate plan to hike prices,” Roongta said, adding that the gap between the global and domestic markets had reduced in the recent time.

“If the gap continues to narrow, we may go for a downward revision of steel prices,” Roongta said but expressed inability to specify any deadline.

Paswan Friday briefed the press about welfare measures and recruitment of people belonging to the scheduled castes and tribes (SC and ST) in various public sector steel undertakings.

He had held the review meeting Thursday.

“A special drive will be launched by the PSUs under the steel ministry to fill up SC-ST vacancies in two months,” Paswan told reporters at his residence here.

The steel manufacturers at a meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here May 7 agreed to reduce prices of flat steel products by Rs.4,000 a tonne and that of structural steel by Rs.2,000 per tonne.

They also agreed not to revise prices for the next three months. The steel manufacturers’ self-imposed moratorium ended Aug 7.

The government has, meanwhile, stepped up efforts to achieve a long-term solution to the supply of iron ore to the steel producers to maintain supply security and contain price volatility.

The steel manufacturers and the iron ore producers are likely to meet Aug 27 in Kolkata to discuss the supply of the raw material.

The state-owned NDMC is the country’s largest iron ore company.

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