September 14: Industries that produce MS billet by importing sponge iron have welcomed the provisions related to the steel industry in the budget replacement bill presented by Finance Minister Janardan Sharma last Friday. The Nepal Steel Billet Producers Association has issued a statement welcoming the difference of 4.75 percentage points in customs duty between sponge iron and readymade billet.
Rajendra Raut, the central member of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry and operator of Swastik Rolling Mill, claimed that the new policy in the budget would increase employment, electricity consumption and reduce the price for consumers by at least Rs 6 per kg. "From our point of view, it seems that this is a good decision for improving domestic production," he said.
Raut said that the government's policy is in the interest of the country in the long run. He said that the industry operating on the basis of raw materials would not only increase electricity consumption but also increase employment, which would have a positive impact on the country's economy.
However, Pawan Kumar Sarda, operator of Premier Steel Industries and former president of Morang Trade Association, objected to the government's sudden adoption of such a policy without any study for the vested interests of some industrialists.
He said that the government took a discriminatory policy.
Due to the wrong policy taken by the government, importing MS billets and constructing iron bars will cost Rs 6 more than importing an iron sponge and making billets, he said.
He added that the industry which produces 400 tons of iron rod daily cannot operate at a regular loss of up to Rs 2.5 million.