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Industry & Economy - Cement


Many pluses, 1 minus

A. K. Jain

I THINK there are many positives in this Budget for the cement industry, and one negative. The positives are the Budget's focus on infrastructure, the new road projects of 10,000 km announced, the provision of 25 per cent made for concrete roads, the rural roads project and the benefits for the housing industry.

These will help the industry to maintain double-digit growth during the year.

In the immediate future, we expect demand to be sustained since all these projects will take their time to lead to increased demand levels.

However, we are disappointed by the increase in excise duty for cement. This is totally uncalled for.

Depending on the price of cement, excise already works out to 25-30 per cent of the ex-factory price.

Cement as such is a very heavily excised commodity both by the Central and the State governments.

Although the Finance Minister has said that this works out to a very marginal increase in the price of cement, he is looking at it narrowly. When the duty is already high he is increasing it.

The cement industry is a core sector industry and we should be further encouraged; whereas steel which is also considered as such has been excised at 16 per cent.

The impact on the industry as a whole due to the excise increase will be Rs 600 crore. We are very disappointed about it.

(The author is Director, Marketing, ACC Limited.)

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