Egypt takes steps to hold cement prices

Egypt takes steps to hold cement prices
Published: 18 February 2009

The Egyptian government has announced new measures to control the retail price of cement, the state news agency Mena said.

With effect from Thursday, the Ministry of Trade and Industry will require all cement producers to fix a maximum price at every stage of the distribution process, including the maximum price consumers should pay, it said.

The producers must stop dealing with distributors who do not observe the maximum prices, it added.

Distributors will also have to report to the ministry weekly on the level of their cement stocks, it said.

Ministry officials were not immediately available to explain the new measures but newspapers and economists say retail cement prices have gone up recently because of demand from Europe and because a strike by truckers has disrupted distribution.

The financial daily Al Alam Al Yom said on Tuesday that in some parts of the country cement is selling at 800 Egyptian pounds ($143) a tonne. Less than one year ago, the price was less than 400 pounds a tonne.

Mena quoted Trade and Industry Minister Rachid Mohamed Rachid as saying: "The ministry will take all necessary measures to stop unjustified increases in the price of cement and will deal decisively with any attempt ... to tamper with prices."