The government needs to strictly enforce cement usage in rural and urban roads
What will be the likely demand-supply scenario in 2015?
This will depend on cement usage in roads and bridges. In case of 100 per cent conversion to cement for road and highway building, the overall growth may easily reach double-digit figures. That will lead to demand outstripping supply (at 100 per cent capacity utilisation) but in not less than a year and a half time. We are yet to catch up with developed nations in as far as FAR vs Road width vs height is concerned. The emphasis on low-cost housing will also make a difference if it is well supported by government. This is a more important area than building smart cities.
What is your estimate on the cement prices in 2015 and how will it impact the market?
Cement prices will cross Rs 400 mark per bag across the country in order that cement companies survive in line with rising costs and a huge tax burden.
What is the export/import scenario in 2015 for cement and its raw materials?
Export levels will go up but not at a very large variance than what has been in recent years because I believe Indian cement will be dearer with rupee consolidating against foreign currencies. Raw material import will go up, specially coal and gypsum.
What are the policy initiatives you expect from the government?
The government needs to strictly enforce cement usage in ´all´ roads, rural or urban. Improve building laws to encourage sky scrapers on smaller footprints, incentivise low cost housing, reduce interest rates on housing loans and also reduce income tax rates on disposable income.
Increase coal output in the country by bringing in modern technology for higher output of coal. Simultaneously, encourage R&D at premier institutes to substitute usage of coal (gas pipelines?) Better roads are needed. Also encourage washeries so that less ash and more coal is transported. Today, coal is Railways´ highest transported commodity followed by steel and cement. Average ash from pit is in the range of 30-40 per cent. Railways is therefore transporting huge amount of ash which is further leading to disposal problems of fly ash at thermal power plants.