Iron and steel have surpassed petroleum products to become Nepal' s largest imports in the first four months of fiscal year 20010/11 beginning in mid July recording a growth of 40.6% to 18.99 billion Nepali rupees (USD 260 million)
According to Monday's Republica daily, the country has imported iron and steel worth NPR 33.89 billion (USD 264 million) and petroleum products worth NPR 55.66 billion (USD 762 million ) in 2009/10.
The big rise in imports of iron and steel was recorded at a time when the growth of real estate sector the major consumers of iron products such as iron wire and rods has been slowing for the last one year due to tightening of loan flow on realty sector.
Imports of petroleum products, which covered more than 15% worth of the total imports dropped by 6.8% to NPR 17.85 billion (USD 245 million) during the first four months compared to NPR 19.17 billion (USD 262 million) during the corresponding period last year.
Mr Yaksha Dhoj Karki president of Federation of Contractors Associations of Nepal said that massive construction activities carried out by both the government and the private sector have pushed up the demand for steel, leading to huge rise in imports.
Mr Karki said that "More than 40% of the total constructions activities in a year are carried out between January and March. Huge imports of iron and steel were made in advance to cater to the demand during the peak season.”