Vinod Juneja, Deputy Managing Director, Binani Group has observed that despite the growth of the Indian cement industry, India’s per capita production of 115kg per year lags way behind the world average of over 250kg and China’s production of more than 450kg.
“Cement capacity utilization have crossed the 100% mark riding on the construction boom in the economy. The cement sector has logged in impressive growth figures. But infrastructure development is going to be the key to India’s growth story. Cement with steel sector is all set to play a pivotal role and Union Budget 2008-09 is expected to boost the Industry”, he said.
He elaborated his expectations from the Union Budget and vision for India’s future.
Juneja said, “Union Budget for 2008-09 should stimulate investment in infrastructure, inclusive for all stakeholders. Cement sector is currently heavily taxed. Current Excise Duty of 12% should be brought down to 6%. Customs duty on Coal Import needs to be cut down by half. Taxes on the Bulk Diesel Buying and Furnace Oil used by the cement industry also need to be rationalized”.
Juneja also expects a boost to be given to the power sector to enhance the prospects for the cement industry. He expects support from the Railway Ministry too. He said, “Government should scale up the investments in the power sector to ensure energy security for all and particularly for the cement industry. Rail Minister should consider giving respite to cement producers by giving concession in the freight charges”.
“With firm competition from Southeast Asia, China, and the West Asia, both the industry and the government must work hand-in-hand to tackle the issue. The government has withdrawn countervailing duty, which creates a non-level playing field because it is almost like negative import duty on cement. Finance Minister should re-visit the policy on zero import duty on cement,” Juneja said.