Cement imports: Ports agree to forgo rentals till clearance

Cement imports: Ports agree to forgo rentals till clearance
Published: 26 April 2007

The Government’s effort to cool down cement prices is gradually paying off, with 525t of the commodity landing in Mumbai and port authorities joining in the efforts to contain inflation by agreeing to forgo rentals till the consignment gets quality clearance.

The first consignment of 200t landed within days of the government bringing down the countervailing duty to zero. The customs duty on cement has already been removed.

"Two more batches of 325t of cement have landed at the port and are now awaiting quality clearance from the Bureau of Indian Standards, before it is released for sale in the domestic market," Secretary in Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion Ajay Dua said here.

The landed cost of imported cement is coming around 75 dollars per tonne or Rs 170 per 50kg bag as against up to Rs 240 charged by the domestic producers.

To lend a helping hand to government’s efforts to keep the cement prices under check, the Bombay Port Trust has decided not to charge the importers any rentals for the time BIS takes to clear the consignments.

Dua said the clearance by BIS may take up to five weeks.

In the meantime BIS has certified 11 cement facilities in Bhutan, Bangladesh and Nepal, which would enable them to sell in India, without going through lengthy clearance processes.

Apart from imports, seasonal factors are also expected to lead to further softening of cement prices as during monsoon months of June to September the construction activity more or less comes to a halt.

Domestic cement companies, who have so far refused to cut prices, were expected to be under pressure with imports coming at a lower price.