Paswan to review steel prices, wants duty cut in budget

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New Delhi, Feb 2 (UNI) The government today said it will review the decision of the steel makers to hike steel prices at a review meeting next week.

Addressing the media here, Steel Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said he has sought a cut in import duties on raw materials in the budget with the object to help the steel makers reduce their cost of production.

He said, Tata Steel had, on Friday, raised the hot and cold-rolled coil prices by Rs 2,000-2,500 a tonne while smaller firms such as JSW Steel, Bhushan Steel and Strips, Essar Steel and Ispat Industries said they will soon follow suit.

Meanwhile, the public sector company Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) said it expects prices to go up by 50 dollars a tonne by March.

Mr Paswan said the rise in global steel prices was out of the control of the government.

''(The) domestic price rise is related to global prices. But, we will urge steel companies to moderate prices,'' he added.

He said the robust demand for steel from infrastructure and manufacturing sectors in fast growing economies such as China and India, coupled with rising costs of iron ore and coking coal, have put pressure on global steel prices.

To offset rising input costs, Mr Paswan said he has put forward a proposal to the Finance Ministry for import duties on met coke and scrap iron ore to be removed from the present five per cent.

The Ministry also wants imposition of an ad-valorem duty or royalties on iron ore exports charged according to their values to curtail exports.

Steel firms now pay Rs 50 per tonne for export of ores with less than 62 per cent of iron content.

Mr Paswan said the government will invest Rs 50,000 crore over the next few years to increase the capacity of state-run SAIL to meet the growing domestic demand.

UNI BKS SR RN2033

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