Budget: Steel sector seeks relief in customs duty on key raw materials

NEW DELHI: The domestic steel industry is seeking reduction in basic customs duty on key raw materials like anthracite coal, metallurgical coke, coking coal, and graphite electrode in the upcoming Budget.

The non-availability of these items in good quality and quantity hinders the growth of the steel industry, industry body Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) said in its Budget recommendations for the sector.

The basic customs import duty on anthracite coal is 2.5 per cent. The availability of the said item in “good quality” is declining in the country and the steel industry may have to become totally dependent on import of these on a regular basis, the body said while suggesting a reduction in import duty to nil.

For metallurgical coke, CII has suggested cutting the import duty to 2.5 per cent, from 5 per cent at present.

“Low ash metallurgical coke, HS Code 2704, is a key raw material in steel (making) accounting for almost 46 per cent of the total raw material cost. Reduction in duty will help the domestic steel industry to be cost-competitive,” it said.

In its recommendations, CII has also suggested removing the import duty on coking coal.

The duty on import of coking coal at present is 2.5 per cent.

The industry body said the domestic supply of coking coal is not sufficient. Hence, to meet the domestic requirement, it has to be imported. Therefore, the duty should be reduced to nil.

“The reduction will also help to rationalise the duty structure on met Coke, which is the end product of coking coal,” it added.

CII further said graphite electrode is a major consumable in steel making. The Indian steel producers are bound to import graphite electrodes as almost 60 per cent of domestic production of graphite electrode is exported, creating a shortage in the domestic market.

“High duty merely increases the cost burden,” it said, adding that it should be reduced to nil from 7.5 per cent at present.

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