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Friday, May 30, 2003

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Sept deadline set for finalising steel policy

Ambarish Mukherjee


THE National Steel Policy is expected to be in place within the next four months.

Buoyed by the upbeat mood prevailing in the Indian steel sector in general and the encouraging performance of the domestic steel majors, the Ministry of Steel has set for itself a deadline of September 2003 for putting the national steel policy in place, Government sources said.

Steel Ministry officials told Business Line that the draft of the policy is ready and will be circulated to the industry and other interest groups within the next few weeks.

"The draft is ready and is currently being fine tuned by senior economists. Then it will be circulated for industry opinion," Steel Ministry officials said.

It may be mentioned that earlier the Government was contemplating on having the policy in place only by next year before the general elections. But changed situation in the global steel sector is compelling the Government to act fast so that Indian companies can capitalise on the international opportunities, sources said and added that a September deadline will augur well with the domestic producers who will still have six more months if the current financial year for necessary adjustments and restructuring.

Earlier, the Government had a major loss of face when its draft policy was rejected by the industry. "Two drafts have been prepared earlier and we are making a consolidation of all these three drafts and hopefully by next week we will know the final shape of the new policy which will then call for the views of the industry," officials said.

The new policy for the Indian steel industry is being framed in the light of the on going restructuring and globalisation in this sector. The key focus areas will include provisions to help successful Indian steel companies emerge as global players and create an international database to be updated on real-time basis, a source associated with the policy formulation work said.

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