Encourage Low Cost Housing To Boost Use Of Steel

Updated: Jun 24 2004, 05:30am hrs
The finance minister began the meeting with a request that he was looking for ideas and not oft-repeated suggestions for tax-cuts/sops/exemptions, and other similar benefits requested in the past by the industry.

We, on our part, want him to do everything possible to support the growth of infrastructure. Under such a situation, the steel industry would be benefited and does not, therefore, seek any special favour.

We feel Budget 2004-05 should lay emphasis on low-cost housing, designs for which are available with the steel industry. Such housing would have a great impact on the rural sector as well as eliminate slums in urban areas.

The current levels of excise and import duty have been recently introduced, and these need not be disturbed in the forthcoming Budget.

In the past, budgets have been very long on good policy but subsequent implementation has been found wanting. We, therefore, insisted on timely implementation, as we noticed that the money value of time was not appreciated in our bureaucratic environment.

The steel industry has recently entered into a healthy phase after a long period of subdued prices. We want encouragement for this phase to continue, because the industry is not really making undue profits.

Capital formation is essential because the steel industry is capital-intensive. Who will invest if the returns from such heavy investments are in doubt

Some companies, including Tata Steel, have made commitments for large investment in the next few years. The country will need that much additional amount of steel, as we are currently operating almost at full capacity, and development requirements (one of the priority areas identified by the UPA government) will mean more usage/requirement of steel. It would be a great travesty of justice if the country has to resort to import of steel to meet its additional requirements in the near future.

India can make steel more economically than most other countries, and our industry has the potential to export to other countries also, if the required capacity is built.