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Builders complain of high cement, steel prices

Ch.R.S Sarma Visakhapatnam | Updated on August 03, 2018 Published on August 03, 2018

The Builders' Association of India (BAI) is of the view that the cement manufacturers in the country have formed into a cartel and are keeping the prices unreasonably high and the Government should take steps to bring the prices down, according to BAI national president A. Puhazhendi.

He was speaking to the media on the occasion of the two-day national council meet which began here on Friday. He said that not only cement prices, but even the steel prices were also on the higher side. "We find no valid, convincing reasons for these high prices. The construction industry, hit hard by demonetisation and the GST during the recent years, is unable to absorb these high prices and it is in a deep crisis," he said.

He said the Government should impose a uniform and reasonable GST for the construction industry and "at present two rates - 12 per cent and 18 per cent - are in force. It should be brought down." The industry is slowing adjusting to the GST regime, he added.

He said the Government should not put too much pressure on the builders with regard to PF and ESI hospital facility for the employees. "We are already paying 1 per cent labour cess and we don't mind, if it is increased to 2 per cent, provided the Government takes care of the social security aspects," he added.

He said civil engineers coming into the construction industry lacked the requisite skills, and the Government should make a period of six months of internship mandatory for them as a part of the curriculum. He said the builders were also facing huge problems in receiving payments from some State Governments after executing the contracts. "However, the banks are not at all considerate and they are charging interest," he complained and said they should be more considerate. All these problems would be studied at length during the two-day meet and recommendations would be made to the Government.

P.R Swarup, the Director-General of the Construction Industry Development Council, said the industry was no doubt in a deep crisis and both the Government and the industry should work together to pull it out of the crisis.

He said there should be a single law governing the industry and there should be a single Government agency, or ministry, dealing with the problems of the industry. "The problems are many and complex, but there are no quick-fix solutions. We have to work at them diligently and find a way out," he added.

Ch. Ramakotaiah, the national vice-president, said there should be a single ministry for the construction industry at the central level and then only co-ordination would become possible.

Published on August 03, 2018
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