The cement sector found no mention in the Budget, but there was much cheer in the industry due to the increased emphasis on infrastructure, which is expected to boost cement demand.
Proposals like enhanced outlays for various schemes will give a significant fillip to the infrastructure sector, analysts said. The outlay for the National Highway Development Programme (NHDP) has been hiked from Rs 9,320 crore to Rs 9,945 crore in ’06-07.
Also, an additional Rs 550 crore has been allocated for the accelerated road development programme of north eastern states. In a new initiative, about 1,000 km of access-controlled expressways are planned. Further, a Rs 735-crore outlay for the port and shipping sector is expected to enhance cement consumption.
“All these efforts will boost infrastructure development, which will boost cement sales,” says ACC finance director Nash Italia. However, the fact that customs and excise duties on cement remain unchanged is quite disappointing, he said.