The Union Minister for Steel, Chemicals & Fertilizers hailed the Union Budget as progressive and pro-aam admi. Shri Ram Vilas Paswan commended the Union Finance Minister for having reduced the Excise Duty on drugs from 16% to 8% and said that this would be a major step in bringing down the prices of medicines. As per the stated position of the UPA in the NCMP to make available drugs to the common man at affordable prices, Shri Paswan said that his Ministry had been demanding a cut in the Excise structure. This reduction is expected to reduce the retail prices of drugs by at least 5% and he hoped that the industry would pass on the entire benefit to the consumer.
The move to also reduce Customs Duty, on certain life saving drugs and bulk drugs used for its manufacture, from 10% to 5% would lead to reduction in the prices of drugs for the treatment of Hepatits B, Diabetics, Thyroid, Cancer, Asthma as also certain vaccines.
The reduction of customs duty on steel melting scrap would help in making available rods and rounds, used by the common man in construction activity, was an issue close to my heart, Shri Paswan said. The Minister had also assured the secondary steel manufacturers in the Steel Consumer's Council meeting held in 2007 that he would take up the issue with the Finance Ministry and expressed happiness that the same has been reflected in the Union Budget 2008-09. The reduction of CST to 2% from the existing 3%, would further aid in making steel available at reduced rates to the consumers, Shri Paswan said.
Reduction of customs duty on project import of capital goods would boost steel investments in a large way, he said. This would help the existing steel majors who have embarked on a major expansion cum modernization programme as also new investors in this sector.