Govt asks Indian steel cos to expand overseas
Indian steel and mining companies should look for overseas opportunities seriously, Union Minister of Steel, Virbhadra Singh said. “It is the time for Indian steel and mining companies, whether they are in the public or private sector, will have to look for overseas opportunities seriously,” he said while addressing a Conference on “Challenges for Indian Steel Industry in Infrastructure and Resources” in New Delhi.
He added that one would also have to take cognizance of the changing national policies in respect of investment in overseas mineral assets. “The recent proposal of the Australian Government to levy a 40% resource tax is a case in point. Therefore, it makes strong sense to also remain focused on exploiting all the available internal resources and make best use of them with adoption of appropriate technology in iron and steel making,” Singh said.
Singh said that as far as iron ore is concerned, the Government has taken policy measures to discourage avoidable exports and consequently raise domestic availability by increasing export duty on lump ores to 15% having a 5% duty on fines. “Although it will have some marginal impact on the export, the Government will have to look at the question of exports differently by bringing in definitive deterrence. This may be in the form of either prohibitive duty or quantitative restrictions. But, such measures can be brought in only in a phased manner with a clear long term plan,” he added.
The Minister said the other major challenge for the Indian steel and mining industries is the inadequate development of supportive infrastructure. The problem looks more serious in the areas with greater mining potential. “The Government has launched infrastructure development plans in unprecedented scale in areas such as power, road, ports, railways, communication and human resource development. However, whether it is a sole Government project or one in the PPP model, progress in implementation is being hit by difficulties in land acquisition, extremist violence and skill shortage. I am sure, the conditions will change in the course of time to allow for completion of the projects in hand,” he added.
Singh informed that while the Government is doing its bit, a large responsibility lies with the industry and the industry associations. It is the synergy between what the Government does and how the private sector or the industry responds to it that will determine the success of all our efforts, the Minister added.