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Govt. not to intervene to check steel prices

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI NOV. 6. The Government today ruled out any intervention to check soaring steel prices, which have been on the rise in the last 18 months. "The Government has no role to play.... prices are market driven... the movement in international prices is being reflected in domestic prices,'' the Union Steel Minister, B. K. Tripathi, told presspersons here.

The Minister said whenever the international steel prices went up, the domestic manufacturers matched the increase. "But I have asked all the major steel producers to increase the prices rationally and they have accepted it,'' he added. The Ministry had also provided some respite to the consumer industry by recommending to the Commerce Ministry the withdrawal of the notification stipulating that all imports of steel into the country had to conform to BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards) specifications and required BIS certification. "I hope this will help the consumers to readily access their requirements of steel and help promote consumption of steel as well as generally help in stabilising prices,'' Mr Tripathi said. He, however, added that there would be no compromise on the quality of steel and all imports would be monitored to ensure that defective steel was not dumped in the country.

Highlighting the performance of public sector enterprises under the Steel Ministry, Mr. Tripathi said all the PSEs had improved their bottom lines and gave specific examples of the Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) and the Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited (RINL).

The Minister also said steps should be taken to increase steel consumption in the country, which was hovering around 29 kg per capita annually against over 400 kg in the developed countries. In tune with the vision of the country becoming a developed economy by 2020, the Ministry of Steel was in the process of formulating a steel policy with the focus on measures to increase consumption of steel.

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