Cement imports to be increased if need arises: Ashwani Kumar

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New Delhi, Apr 27 (UNI) Faced with increasing political pressure to put a leash on the spiralling inflation rate, the government said it will facilitate more cement imports if the need arises.

''We will import more cement to improve supplies, if there is a need,'' Minister of State for Industries Ashwani Kumar told reporters on the sidelines of 'Harnessing Intellectual Property for Nations's Development' organised by FICCI.

He said the government has already taken steps to bridge the supply-demand mismatch in cement.

The government is engaged with the cement manufacturers to ensure that there is no cartelisation, Mr Kumar said and added that, ''while profit is not to be deprived, profiteering will not be tolerated.'' As the cement prices in the country surged, the government has banned cement export.

Earlier this week, commerce Secretary G K Pillai had said the import of cement would be increased in May to 4,000 tonnes a day to get rid of the disparity between demand and supply.

India had already allowed duty-free import of cement from Pakistan last year, as domestic firms were running almost at full capacity and would not be able to meet the demand in near future. It imported 1.3 lakh tonnes of cement from Pakistan last year.

Indian cement manufacturers plan to increase cement output by 100 million tonnes by 2010.

The goverment expects a balance in demand-supply of cement in the current fiscal.

With such moves, it believes the cement prices in the country will stabilise, and also check cartelisation in the sector.

The state governments have also been empowered to cap the amount of stocks any stockist can keep, which is expected to release more stocks in the market of primary commodities.

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