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Duty on steel may be cut to reduce prices

Newly inducted minister Jitin Prasada says the Govt is considering reduction in import duties to bring down steel prices, reports Samiran Saha.
Hindustan Times | By Samiran Saha, New Delhi
UPDATED ON APR 07, 2008 10:41 PM IST

The government is considering reduction in import duties to bring down steel prices that have gone up by 20-22 per cent in the last quarter, the newly inducted minister of state for steel, Jitin Prasada said after assuming office, on Monday.

Prasada expressed concern at spiraling steel prices and said the government will reduce import duties on finished steel to bring down the prices.

“We are looking at several options to bring down steel prices. It could be through reduction in import duties or by discourage steel exports to curb the rising price of steel, Prasada told reporters after formally taking over charge.

He said, “demand is rising and there is a shortage in supply. The government will do everything to protect the interest of the poor and ordinary people”.

Steel prices have gone by 20 to 22 per cent in the last quarter. Analysts also attribute increasing prices of steel as reason for high inflation that is at a three-year high at seven per cent.

Regarding the need for a regulator for the steel sector, Prasada said “Let me discuss it with others, (bureaucrats and senior cabinet colleagues).” However the steel manufacturers are opposed to a regulator and have stated bring in a regulator will be regressive for the steel industry.

Elected to the Lok Sabha from the Shahjahanpur constituency in Uttar Pradesh, Prasada is one of the youngest to be included in the Council of Ministers.

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