Middlemen's role in iron ore trade to be curbed

Wednesday, 27 August 2008, 07:00 Hrs
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Kolkata: The government is planning to control the role of middlemen in iron ore trade in a bid to moderate prices, Minister of State for Steel Jitin Prasada said here Wednesday.

"At a meeting in Bangalore with steel makers recently, a consensus was reached to curb the role of middlemen in iron ore trade," Prasada said at a meeting with members of the Merchant Chamber of Commerce and Industry, an industry lobby.

He said the government would act as an intermediary and meet iron ore sellers and steel makers to ensure direct interaction without the the involvement of middlemen.

The steel ministry is organising a series of interactions with steel makers across the country in an effort to identify and address issues impacting the steel industry at present.

"The government is aware that international prices of iron ore and coal prices have shot up, but we also have to keep inflation under check. It is the agenda of the United Progressive Alliance government to ensure a scenario that the interest of the common person is not hurt by rising prices," Prasada said.

The minister said the long-term solution to the problem of rising steel prices is through capacity expansion.

Prasada also said the government would continue to restrict export of iron ore to help domestic manufacturers.

"In the past, we have put export duties on iron ore and this will be our strategy for the future too," he said.

As for iron ore fines - a lower grade iron ore - Prasada said, it is not utilised efficiently in the country and so there is little need to curb its exports.

"We will continue to allow export of iron ore fines," he said.

Prasada also urged secondary steel makers to keep prices under check.

"I request all who are present here and also those who are not present, to keep prices under check," he said.

Regarding the turmoil over the Tata Motors' Nano car project at Singur, Prasada said: "Land allocation is a major challenge in the state."

Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee is leading a sit-in at Singur, demanding that the state government return the 400 acres it had acquired for the Nano small car project from farmers unwilling to part with their land.

Prasada said the state governments should fulfill three primary conditions while acquiring land for industries: provide adequate compensation for those whose land is acquired, create jobs for affected families, and make such people stakeholders in the project.
Source: IANS
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