Notwithstanding of slowing domestic demand, steel companies have raised concerns over rising steel imports at 0 per cent duty from countries such as Japan and South Korea that have signed a free trade agreement.
Steel imports in the June quarter were down 9% at 1.72 million tonnes, while exports declined 27% to 1.02 million tonnes.
Though, overall, steel imports to India have fallen due to weak demand, the proportion of duty-free imports has increased to 66% from 60% in the June quarter.
Amid growing import worries, the steel industry has urged the government to keep steel out of the proposed 16-member Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations, which is to begin later this week.
India has said that it is ready to look into a request made by the EU for exemption of ‘low-risk’ stainless steel product imports from compulsory re-testing requirement in BIS-authorised laboratories. But it has dismissed the suggestion made by the bloc that their steel mills with ISO 9001 quality management system in place should be exempt from the requirement of factory inspections.
The EU has been demanding that India accept tests carried out in foreign accredited laboratories attesting compliance with ISO standards (Indian standards) and stop conducting factory inspections in the EU steel mills having in place quality management system (QMS) as defined in ISO 9001.
The EU has been alleging that India’s measures on steel are basically non-tariff barriers, but New Delhi has been rejecting the charge. Interestingly, countries across the globe have been taking various measures to support their domestic steel industry.
According to estimates of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), the Centre’s fiscal deficit for 2018-19 should have been amounted to a discomfiting 6.1% of the gross domestic product (GDP) instead of the 3.4% reported. This would have been higher than such deficit of 5.85% for 2017-18
Rathin Roy, member of the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister, recently said the country might be staring at a “silent fiscal crisis” and called for a white paper on the medium-term fiscal targets.
Pertinently, the Centre could meet the revised estimate (RE) for its fiscal deficit for 2018-19 only after a savage reduction in expenditure by Rs 1.46 lakh crore, or 5.9% from the RE level, as tax receipts fell terribly short of the respective RE
The Centre has approved construction of nearly 1.4 lakh more houses under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, taking the number of houses to be built under the scheme to over 85 lakh.
Uttar Pradesh was given the approval of 54,277 houses, while West Bengal got approval for construction of 26,585 houses under the PMAY (U), followed by Gujarat (26,183), Assam (9,328), Maharashtra (8,499), Chhattisgarh (6,507), Rajasthan (4,947) and Haryana (3,808).
A total of 492 projects will cost ₹6,642 crore, out of which the Centre approved a financial assistance of ₹2,102 crore.