Steel may again be essential good
New Delhi: Within a year of pulling it out of Essential Commodities Act, the government is considering reversing its decision if the steel producers do not hold the price line. Although the steel majors have recently reduced prices by about Rs 2,000 a tonne, the producers may again hike prices in tune with international trend. Thus, with inflation rate at 3-year high at 7%, the steel ministry is keeping all options open to ensure steel prices were kept under check. Steel minister Ram Vilas Paswan has written a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh suggesting various measures fiscal and non-fiscal, including putting steel back into Essential Commodities Act. This is all the more significant in the backdrop of steel prices increasing by about Rs 7,000 during the past three months. “In the three-month period since December 2007, steel prices have risen by 20-24%...possibilities of setting up a regulatory mechanism for steel and its inputs and re-classifying steel as an essential commodity may be considered by the government,” Paswan said in his letter. However, it may be noted that after a meeting with top ministry officials, the producers had rolled back their prices this week. The government has already withdrawn export incentives being offered to steelmakers in the form of Duty Entitlement Pass Book (DEPB) scheme. PTI