Drug prices to become cheaper: Paswan

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New Delhi, Feb 29 (UNI) Hailing the Budget 2008-09 as progressive and pro-aam admi, Minister for Steel, Chemicals and Fertilisers Ram Vilas Paswan today said the reduction of excise duty on drugs from 16 per cent to 8 per cent will reduce the prices of medicines.

''This will be a major step in bringing down the prices of medicines,'' he said.

Stating that his Ministry had been demanding a cut in the excise structure, he said, ''This reduction is expected to reduce the retail prices of drugs by at least five per cent and he hoped that the industry will pass on the entire benefit to the consumer.'' The move to reduce customs duty, on certain life saving drugs and bulk drugs used for its manufacture, from 10 per cent to five per cent will lead to reduction in the prices of drugs for the treatment of Hepatits B, Diabetics, Thyroid, Cancer, Asthma as also certain vaccines.

''The reduction of customs duty on steel melting scrap will help in making available rods and rounds, used by the common man in construction activity, was an issue close to my heart,'' he said.

Reduction of CST to two per cent from the existing three per cent, will further aid in making steel available at reduced rates to the consumers, Mr Paswan said.

Reduction of customs duty on project import of capital goods will boost steel investments in a large way, he said adding, ''This will help the existing steel majors who have embarked on a major expansion cum modernisation programme as also new investors in this sector.'' UNI MP AK RAI2102

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