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India may slap taxes, quotas to limit iron ore exports

New Delhi, May 19 (IANS) India may impose taxes and quotas on exports of iron ore from the country to increase availability of the raw material for the domestic steel industry, steel minister Virbhadra Singh said Wednesday.

‘The government has taken a few policy measures to discourage avoidable exports of iron ore and consequently raise domestic availability by increasing export duty on lump ores to 15 percent and having a 5 percent duty on fines. Although this will have a marginal impact on exports, the government would have to look at the question differently by bringing in definitive deterrence,’ Singh said.

‘If needed, we will resort to taxation measures and quantitative restrictions to conserve the use of iron ore for today and for the future. But such measures can be brought in a phased manner with a clear long-term plan,’ he said.

He was addressing a press conference on ‘Challenges for Indian Steel Industry in Infrastructure and Resources’, organised by industry lobby FICCI.

Singh said his ministry was in close touch with the mines ministry to formulate a new mining policy to ensure coking coal supply.

‘A new mining policy bill will be presented for parliamentary approval soon,’ he added.

He also asked public sector enterprises to invest aggressively to acquire mining assets.

‘It is time for the Indian steel and mining companies, whether in the public or private sector, to look for opportunities overseas more seriously.’

Iron ore and coking coal are the two primary raw materials used in manufacturing steel and contribute almost 65-70 percent of the total cost of production. Indian steel producers often have to import coking coal due to domestic supply constraints.

Recently, another industry lobby Assocham recommended imposing 20 percent duty on exports of iron ore fines as against present five percent.

It said that doing so will not only curb illegal mining but also add extra revenue of Rs.15,000 crore to the exchequer.

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