Economy

Cement cos need Govt help to beat slowdown: Birla

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on November 17, 2017 Published on August 30, 2012

Looking for support: Kumar Mangalam Birla, Chairman, UltraTech Cement, and Rajashree Birla, Director, at the company's AGM in Mumbai on Thursday. — Shashi Ashiwal





UltraTech Cement has sought Government assistance for the industry to help it come out of the challenging times posed by soaring operational cost and slowing demand.

Speaking at the shareholders meeting on Thursday, Kumar Mangalam Birla, Chairman, UltraTech Cement, said the outlook for the cement industry remains challenging with the slow pace of housing and infrastructure putting a brake on growth.

“We look up to the Government to support the cement industry and ensure growth through initiatives like reducing the tax burden and ensuring availability of linkage coal,” he said.

NO CARTELISATION

Assuring that the company is well protected against the cartelisation charges levied by the Competition Commission of India, Birla said the company has not indulged in any sort of activity that could be termed as cartelisation.

“There are 47 players in the cement industry. No cartelisation is possible with such a level of disintegration. No hard evidence is available to show that the industry has indulged. The case will not stand without hard evidence,” he said.

Justifying the recent rise in cement prices, he said coal prices have jumped by 150 per cent, while diesel and railway freight were also hiked. Capital costs have also gone up. “The increase in cement prices does not make up for incremental cost,” he said.

The slowdown in private investment spending was because of several factors, such as sluggish demand, high interest rates, slower approvals and clearance from Government and the gloomy sentiment.

“I believe the short-term prospects for the cement industry appear bearish. Regardless, over the medium to long term, the sector offers good growth potential,” he said.

>suresh.iyengar@thehindu.co.in

Published on August 30, 2012
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