There has been a fair amount of press recently about the plight of the Indian steel industry as a result of low-priced imports from China. What is less well known is that the domestic seamless tube industry, of which I happen to be an employee, has been facing this onslaught for more than five years now. This industry, which represents over Rs 25,000 crore of investment and over 30,000 direct and indirect employees, is on the verge of collapse. We are, today, operating at under 30% capacity utilisation—a totally unsustainable level. A year ago, after two years of sustained efforts, the government of India had levied a safeguard duty of 20% on the import of seamless tubes. This duty failed to have any impact whatsoever on the volume of imports. The Chinese simply reduced their prices and imports continued unabated. In the last three years, no significant public sector tender has accrued to any Indian company—all orders have gone to the Chinese. Almost all seamless tube manufacturing countries, including the US, Europe, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina etc., have imposed anti-dumping duty on Chinese seamless tubes—China has a significant track record in dumping across the globe. We are the only manufacturing country that has left its doors open to Chinese products. The domestic industry has already filed a petition for the imposition of anti-dumping duty. The case is initiated and investigation is underway. Given the precarious financial health and operating parameters, our industry would not be able to survive the full investigation which can take as long as 12 to 18 months. The hapless employees, through this letter, urge the GOI to impose an effective provisional duty on the expiry of 60 days of initiation—which is permissible under the WTO provisions. It is incumbent, in my view, upon the government to do whatever possible to ensure that capital is utilised and jobs are protected by doing something that is permissible under rules. The government of the day has to first ensure that the industry survives the onslaught of Chinese exporters to effectively implement the Make-in-India programme that it has launched.
Rakesh Duda, via e-mail
Apropos of the edit “So, what will OROP cost?” (September 1, FE), the issue of one-rank, one pension is not just one that can be based on pure fiscal considerations. Pensioners need benefits that take care of their needs. With inflation and price rise, there is no pensioner in the country who will be able to meet his or her needs without the pension getting revised. At the same time, the veterans need to realise that a yearly review would put tremendous pressure on government finances. They must agree to a five-year or seven-year review. OROP can’t mean short-period revisions.
Abhijeet Bose, Kolkata
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