Cut in cement prices not sufficient: FM

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New Delhi, May 15 (UNI) Finance Minister P Chidambaram today said the cut in the retail prices of cement by the manufacturers was ''small'' and there was scope for a ''significant reduction.'' The Minister also ruled out any cut in the import duty on crude as such moves did not affect the administered retail prices.

Virtually ruling out any reduction in the excise duty on cement before the conclusion of the talks with the producers, the Minister told reporters that any sop from the government would depend on the outcome of the negotiations.

Replying to a query after the weekly Cabinet briefing, Mr Chidambaram said the commodity transaction tax would be notified after the Presidential assent to the Finance Bill.

Asked about the appreciation of the rupee against the dollar, he said the rupee was bound to move both ways, depending upon the inflows and outflows and the demand-supply position of the dollar.

He did not say whether the government would withdraw the export sops announced in the wake of rupee falling to record lows.

To another query, Mr Chidambaram said a note was given to the Cabinet on the developments on the pension fund front since the Chief Ministers' meet on the subject. The pension fund managers had been announced and the central record keeping agency set up. Also, the accumulated pension funds had been transferred to the Pension Fund Regulatory Authority.

On steel, he said he had not received any proposal from the Steel Ministry with regard to export duty.


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