Budget fails to bring cheers to India cement makers

Budget fails to bring cheers to India cement makers
Published: 07 July 2009

The Indian cement industry is not happy with the Budget as it fails to meet its long-pending demand for rationalising tax structures at par with other commodity makers, particularly steel.

"We are disappointed with that cement fails to get any respite from the high rate of taxes and duties," ACC LTD’s Managing Director Sumit Banerjee said in a statement.

Banerjee also said that the cement industry was also hoping in vain that retail housing would get a boost by way of an increase in persoanl income-tax exemption on housing loan interest.

Cement Manufacturers’ Association president H M Bangur had earlier said that the industry wanted alignment of VAT on cement to be in line with steel.

While cement attracts 12.5 per cent VAT, for steel it is just four per cent.

The association also asked restoration of import duty on cement and supply of fly ash to cement industry free of cost.

The industry was also hoping that the Government might bring down the import duty on coal, pet coke and gypsum to zero-level, since these were not sufficiently available within the country to meet the requirements.

Ultratech Cement’s president & Chief Financial Officer K C Birla, however, said that the demand for cement would go up as the Government increases the allocation on the infrastructure sector.

"The Budget is reflective of the Government’s inclusive growth agenda. The increased allocation on the infrastructure scetor would augur well since it will push up demand for cement," Birla said.

Binani Cement’s Managing Director Vinod Juneja said that the Budget will help increase the consumption of cement and investment on the sector in India as the Government plans to spend more infrastructure, Commonwealth games and housing sectors.

"This is a good Budget for the 100 crore people of India, but not the manufacturing sector," Juneja said.
A team of local and international investors has switched on a twin cement production plant that is expected to grind 2000tpa, intensifying competition in the industry that is already facing heat from cheap imports.

Producing under technical support of Taiheiyo Cement Corporation – the largest cement producer in Japan, Mombasa Cement intends to cut its teeth in the domestic cement market currently shared by Bamburi Cement, East African Portland Cement and Athi River Mining Company.

“We will not export to the regional market. We intend to fulfil local demand first,” said Mr Harish Patel, a director at Mombasa Cement Limited, which is trading under the Nyumba brand.