Kathmandu, November 23
Nepal’s import of iron and steel jumped by a whopping 127 per cent in the first four months of fiscal year 2016-17 compared to the same period of the previous year, thanks to rapid acceleration of construction works across the country.
According to the statistics of Department of Customs (DoC), iron and steel worth Rs 29.63 billion have been imported in the country in the period between mid-July to mid-November of current fiscal against the import of the same commodities standing at Rs 13.03 billion in the same period of last year.
Domestic steel and rod manufacturers have said that this significant surge in import of steel and rod is due to sudden boom in construction sector in Nepal.
“Construction works — from houses to big projects — have picked up significantly across the country at present which has swelled the demand for construction materials, including that of iron and steel,” said Dhurba Kumar Shrestha, former president of Nepal Steel Rolling Mills Association (NSRMA), adding that a large number of steel and rods was imported in the market from India following production constraint from domestic manufacturers due to rise in load-shedding.
|Four months’ data|
|2015-2016||Rs 13.03 billion||Rs 1.1 billion|
|2016-2017||Rs 29.63 billion||Rs 1.2 billion|
Domestic manufacturers have also said that the current surge in import is of temporary nature and would come down once reconstruction works of houses, heritages and projects affected by the earthquake last year draws to an end.
“The demand for construction materials suddenly skyrocketed after the government lifted ban on construction of new buildings and houses that was imposed after the earthquake,” said Kiran Sakhwa, vice president of NSRMA, adding that the market share of Indian iron and steel has gone up following excessive demand. Otherwise, Sakhwa said that domestic production is sufficient to meet the normal demand of the commodities.
There are 16 iron and steel mills operating in the country. According to Sakhwa, the annual domestic demand of iron and steels is around 700,000 metric tonnes and domestic manufacturers are able to meet this demand.
“Manufacturers can now run their factories in full-fledged manner as the government has reduced the power cut drastically. This will directly increase our production and contribute towards substituting imports from India,” Sakhwa sad.
According to entrepreneurs, the demand for iron and steel is increasing by 20 per cent annually.
Meanwhile, DoC data shows that export of iron and steel from Nepal increased by 4.9 per cent over the review period. Nepal exported iron and steel worth Rs 1.2 billion in the first four months of 2016-17 compared to Rs 1.1 billion worth of iron and steel exported during the same period last year.
A version of this article appears in print on November 24, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.