Chongqing Iron & Steel said it could save about 20 million yuan (about HK$18.6 million) a year from cutting staff by about 1,500 this year. Chairman Guo Daiyi said the company had about 15,000 staff and aimed to get the number to below 10,000 in three years. The company also hopes it can surpass profit growth achieved last year, although Mr Guo admitted it would be a formidable task. A cut in income tax helped the company post a 26 per cent rise in net profit to 213.7 million yuan, despite a 5 per cent fall in turnover to 2.87 billion yuan. Mr Guo said there would be scope for growth this year, given demand arising from the mainland's target of 8 per cent economic growth and the Chongqing municipal government's aim of 10 per cent growth, Beijing's policy of boosting the development of inland regions and the Three Gorges dam project. The company estimated overall product growth would be about 9 per cent this year. Its overall product price fell 1 per cent last year and the company expected prices to be steady this year. Mr Guo said the company's products were not the same as those dumped cheaply by neighbouring countries and its inland location also cushioned it from the direct impact of imports, although prices would be under pressure. He said the company saw a slower start this year because production facilities were closed for maintenance in the first two months. The company's gross profit margin climbed 0.6 per cent to 15.1 per cent last year, which finance manager Tu Deling expected to remain stable.