Steel manufacturers not to raise prices - Steel Sec

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New Delhi, Aug 8 (UNI) The government today said the steel manufacturers have agreed to further hold the prices of steel at current levels, a move seen to help the government to tame the soaring inflation that has crossed the 12 per cent mark.

Earlier, the firms in the world's fifth largest steel producing nation had assured the government for not hiking the prices of this essential product for the three months, the time frame for which had expired on August 7.

''The government has initiated a number of fiscal measures to check prices and the steel companies have agreed to hold prices and restrain exports. They have now agreed to hold prices further but there is no specific timelimit for them,'' Steel Secretary Pramod Rastogi told reporters on the sidelines of an event here.

In a meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on May 7, they had agreed to reduce prices of flat steel products by Rs 4,000 a tonne and by Rs 2,000 per tonne in the case of structural steel.

Steel manufacturers in the country have been battling soaring cost of production, which has risen more than 60 per cent in 2008 due to a doubling of iron ore prices globally and a jump in thermal coal rates, which have tripled over the past year to a record 201 dollars a tonne on July 1.

''There has been a steep increase in the prices of coal and iron ore in the international market which has led to a decline in the profit of the steel companies,'' Mr Rastogi added.

The inflation rate had scaled an all time high in 13 years with the figure being at 12.01 per cent for the week ended July 26.

UNI AK MP HT1300

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