’No early end’ to cement shortage

’No early end’ to cement shortage
Published: 23 July 2008

A senior official of Qatar National Cement Company (QNCC) said yesterday that the current shortage of cement in the local market is not expected to be resolved soon, “as the unprecedented demand for the material requires huge investments before bridging the gap between the supply and demand”.
Speaking at a meeting held by the QNCC to discuss its first half financial results, Kamel Mohamed Yousuf al-Khateeb, production manager, QNCC, said that the booming construction sector has made it impossible with “our current capabilities to meet the demand for the material”.

“In spite of the continuous efforts and expansion plans of QNCC aiming to meet the demand for cement in the local market and increasing the production capacity of the company, I do not think that the crisis would be settled by our current efforts. Only with pumping huge investments in the cement production, we could resolve the shortage especially that Qatar has the highest per capita of cement consumption, 5000kg a year, in the world,” al-Khateeb said.

However, Mohamed Ali al-Sulaiti, the general manager, said that the company was importing some 5000 tonnes of cement on a daily basis to meet the growing demand for the material.

“Most of the countries in the region are facing a shortage of cement, including Saudi Arabia, which recently imposed a ban on exporting cement. The ban has worsened the crisis here and forced us to import from remote countries,” he said.

To a question on the recent decision of the government to impose a three-year freeze on the prices of the construction material, including cement, al-Sulaiti told Gulf Times that the freeze is effective in terms of his company prices set for cement, which he said, are fixed at QR250/t.

“We are committed to providing cement for local consumers at QR250 per tonne and any increase over that fixed price is just a black market price and we have no control over that. When there is a shortage in any material, the door opens for black market dealers,” he added.