The Government must look to fast track investments in the infrastructure sector to help the steel industry recover from the demand slump (for steel products) that has arisen due to Covid-19 pandemic, an industry body has said.

This infrastructure push could be given by front-loading the investment in National Infrastructure Pipeline, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) has suggested.

In their recommendations to the Centre, the FICCI has also said that construction activities should be allowed to operate with precautionary measures as guided by the Government of India directives. Fast-tracking operationalization of all steel-consuming industries should be accorded the highest priority at present.

"To further enhance demand, the industry body has suggested to explore and encourage newer applications for steel products, including steel furniture, steel usage at railway platforms etc. Asserting that steel scores over other competing materials in Life Cycle Analysis (LCA), FICCI further recommends for incorporating LCA basis in procurement clauses issued by public agencies and state governments. It also recommends to give preference for domestically manufactured steel products,” a FICCI statement said.

FICCI has also recommended to incorporate the entire supply chain of the sector, from integrated steel producers, secondary steel makers to pipes, tubes, re-rollers, fabricators, downstream and servicing units, loha mandis, etc. into essential services, allowing them to operate with precautionary measures as guided by the Central Government.

FICCI has pointed out that the Monitory Policy relaxations by way of policy rate cuts, liquidity infusion into the market and quantitative easing are not destressing the steel players, especially the secondary steel sector. It thus recommends for an extension of additional three months moratorium granted on payment of interest and repayment of loans; without any penal interest and interest-free financing/at nominal rates for MSMEs in the sector to revive.