The Steel Minister also said that over $100-billion domestic steel sector needs to enhance its efficiency in the long run to be globally competitive. "What I have told the industry that now we will have a roadmap where you will have your responsibility to see whether you are improving as far as efficiency is concerned, whether you are improving in giving back outstanding of bank loans, whether you are improving to make your industry competitive in the world market. These things are also to be looked at.
"So what I have told them that on one way we talk of your production, the other way we must find out (the way) that you should get out of this rut within six months," Singh said. The Minister, who did not elaborate further, said it will also include the public sector undertakings.
But, when prodded further, he said: "As far as long drawn measures are concerned, I have asked industry that they should be ready to face (competition) and to perform. I understand government's responsibility to nurture the industry, but it also has to be competitive and cost effective." India plays an important role in the global steel market, but its "importance" will be "sustainable" only if the country keeps pace with international trends, he said.
"We are the world's third largest steel producer. Our role as a major producer is important and it can be sustainable only when if we keep track of the global market trends and our quality standards while ensuring consumer protection," he explained.
By being competitive, the steel industry will not only do justice to its consumers, but will also be a bigger foreign exchange earner for the country by exporting more, he added. Singh's predecessor, Narendra Singh Tomar too, in April this year, had a similar advice for the domestic companies.
Tomar, now Union Rural Development Minister, had said: "But in the long term, industry has to accept external realities and learn to compete and emerge stronger in spite of them. Time is of essence and all plans and actions by the companies must be well-planned and executed."
Singh, who took over as Steel Minister from Tomar last month, said it is the government's role to see that downtrend should be checked and explore how the sector can be made more competitive in the prevailing scenario.