Ripples over FG’s cement import policy, Nigeria

Ripples over FG’s cement import policy, Nigeria
Published: 12 September 2010

Stakeholders in the building and construction industries are contesting the new cement policy which they argue will put the destiny of the people in the hands of a cement cartel. Presently, the country has 95 per cent of cement raw materials that can be tapped to grow the nation’s economy and
export the commodity to other countries.

The new policy seeks importation of 2.5Mt of bulk cement by six local manufacturers to cover the second half of the year. Indeed they urged the Federal Government to call Finance Minister, Dr Olusegun Aganga to order. A bag of cement now goes for N1, 700 in Lagos, but analysts said the price could fall if government relaxes its hold on cement importation.

The tension generated by the recent policy reversal on cement importation heightened at the weekend when industry operators challenged the Presidency to either call the Finance Minister to order or redeploy him over the controversial policy.

A memo issued by the Minister of Finance, Olusegun Aganga dated July 20, and which was addressed to the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) and other relevant agencies had approved the importation of 2.5Mt of bulk cement by six local manufacturers to cover the second half of the year.

But industry operators who spoke on condition of anonymity said the new policy would be counter productive as it would not only shoot prices of cement above the reach of ordinary Nigerians. They said the policy would build a cult of near monopolists who will in turn force their choice of products on Nigerians.