Big players in the steel and cement industry are indulging in cartelisation to jack-up prices, Union Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari has said, pitching to place a regulator for the sectors. The minister was speaking a virtual event organised by the Builders Association of India on Saturday.
It may be noted that allegations of such cartelisation have been made in the past as well, especially by the real estate industry, which is impacted through higher input prices because of it. “Regarding steel and cement, this is really a problem for all of us… Actually, I feel this is a cartel by some big people are doing in cement and steel,” Gadkari said. The minister said he has discussed the issue with the Prime Minister and had a lengthy discussion on it with the Principal Secretary in the PMO as well. The minister, however, conceded that having a regulator is not in his hands and promised to speak with the Finance Ministry and the Prime Minister to get the proposal moving.
Stating that all the players in the steel industry have their own iron ore mines, and do not have to face any hikes in labour or power rates, he wondered how the steel industry has been hiking prices. He said the cement industry is exploiting the situation by hiking up the prices, and underlined that the stance of both the industries is not in the national interest, given the infrastructure spends lined up.
Meanwhile, India Ratings and Research in its steel monitor report has said that the increase in India’s domestic steel consumption from 2QFY21 has led to higher cost which might invite a government intervention to curb prices. “With the high steel prices making operations less viable and thus less profitable, end-use industries may defer consumption slightly and this could arrest the rate at which steel prices are increasing. While steel mills are pushing for a further increase in prices, there could be a possible government intervention since the cost of infrastructure projects are up 20-25 per cent over pre-Covid levels,” the report said.