Consumer Protection Foremost in Cement Matter – Samuda


Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Karl Samuda, has defended the deregulation of the market for cement, noting that while the Government is keen to facilitate growth in manufacturing, it also has a duty to protect the consumer and ensure that Jamaicans are provided with the best quality products at competitive rates.
“We are not about the business of providing a level of protection that compromises our ability to enjoy the best price, which comes through competition in the marketplace. That is the position of this Ministry,” he stated.
The Minister was responding to issues surrounding the removal of the Common External Tariff (CET) on imported cement at a press conference held today (June 4) at his St. Lucia Avenue office in New Kingston. The 15 per cent Common External Tariff (CET) on imported cement was lifted in 2006, after problems arose with supplies by local manufacturer Caribbean Cement Company Limited (CCCL). The two-year suspension of the CET was extended last year and is scheduled to expire in September.
CCCL has said that a further suspension of the CET will damage its share of the market. The company also objected last December when ARC Systems imported some 30,000 tonnes of the product from China.
Mr. Samuda pointed out however, that the suspension of the CET and the importation of the building product, have had minimal impact in the marketplace and on inventories. “In fact, the closing inventory for April is less than the demand. The closing inventory, according to our figures, is some 55,000 tonnes and the demand is some 73,000 tonnes,” he said.
He noted further that the concerns being expressed by the local manufacturer and importers of the product are “premature”, as a decision was yet to be reached regarding an extension of the CET waiver. “I can understand the anxiety on both sides, but in the final analysis, it’s premature,” he stated.
In the meantime, Minister Samuda said the administration is awaiting a court ruling in which Caribbean Cement sued the Government. He said the case was heard in court in March and hopefully, a judgment would be delivered before the expiration date of the CET waiver.

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