The Steel Ministry wants lower import taxes on a number of key steelmaking raw materials, including nickel, to protect the domestic industry from the rising costs of basic resources, as per reports. Some of these measures could be announced in this year’s annual budget. Further, the finance ministry could also scrap the current 5 per cent import duty on nickel, largely used in stainless steel production, senior steel ministry official Aruna Sharma reportedly suggested. Since nickel is not present in India at all, the ministry is of the view that there is no point in having the customs import duty on it, and hence, a case to do away with it.
According to reports, the ministry has also sounded out the government about lower dividend payouts by state-owned companies, including Steel Authority of India (SAIL), the biggest steel producer, due to their poor financial health. It is also known that India's steel sector, which accounts for Rs 1.3 trillion ($19.06 billion) of bad debt in the banking sector, is likely to get some relief from banks working on a proposal. While a formula has been worked out by the banking system, reports indicate that now, individual banks and companies are engaged in talks, which will help relieve the stress to some extent.
Moreover, the steel ministry has also sought an allocation of about Rs 400 million in the budget for the 2017/18 fiscal year, more than double than in the previous fiscal year. The ministry plans to spend almost the entire budgetary allocation for research, as it needs modern and latest technology. According to reports, South Korean steel maker Hyundai Steel had shown interest in investing in India. It is also known that Japan and South Korea are keen to invest in India's steel sector and their officials are already in talks with the steel minister.