September 24, Kathmandu. The government is set to set up a task force to study the debate on duty change on sponge iron and readymade billet imports.
The Finance Ministry has said that a task force will be set up in coordination with Revenue Secretary Krishna Hari Pushkar to study and report on the debate arising out of tariff manipulation.
Finance Minister Sharma told during a discussion program with steel industrialists in the Finance Ministry on Sunday that a task force would be constituted for the study. He said that after receiving the study report of the task force, necessary decision would be taken on the Dandi dispute. The task force will prepare a report on both the steel industries by studying the issues of value addition, power consumption, employment status, labor force, legal provisions, practices of neighboring countries, pollution etc.
Minister Sharma clarified that customs duty and excise duty on import of sponge iron have been removed with the aim of promoting an economy based on domestic production. “I am ready to stand up and accept the challenge that I have taken this decision in the interest of the nation. Isn’t it just a matter of doing business and becoming self-reliant by opening industries in the country?” he said. Will never take such a decision which will harm the country.
The divided steel industry has reiterated its stand after the government changed the duty rate on imports of raw materials used in the steel industry through a replacement budget. Industrialists producing readymade billets and sticks said that 24 industries are stuck due to the decision to give exemption in customs duty and excise duty on sponge iron and urged to listen to their demands.
Former Minister of State for Finance Dr. Udyog Banijya Sangh’s Vice President Roop Jyoti, Anjan Kumar Shrestha and former Vice President Pradeep Kumar Shrestha, Kiran Prakash Sakh and others demanded immediate relief to the billet making industries by importing billets by waiving electricity duty.
He reiterated that the decision to waive excise duty on sponge iron was against the principles of the World Trade Organization (WTO). During the discussion program between the two sides, billet industrialists had accused the smelting industries of polluting the environment, killing workers in collapsing furnaces and producing low quality pillars. He argued that 20,000 more jobs would be created, iron mines could be brought in. The operation in Dhauwadi and Phulchowki in Nepal and 500 MW of electricity will be consumed.
He claimed that 60 to 70 percent of the world’s metal products are made from recycled technology.
The government through the New Economic Act has given complete exemption of 4.75 per cent customs duty and excise duty on sponge iron imports and kept 4.75 per cent customs duty on finished billet imports unchanged at Rs 2,500 per metric tonne. After this decision, 30 steel industries have been divided into pros and cons.