Sri Lanka Holcim unit says cement market slowing

Sri Lanka Holcim unit says cement market slowing
Published: 11 June 2008

A senior company official from Holcim Lanka there has been a slowdown in demand for cement from the island’s construction sector as people find it difficult to build owing to escalating costs.

"We’re lobbying the consumer affairs authority to increase our prices," Holcim Lanka chairman Manilal Fernando said.

"We feel cement is not an essential item and it should not be price controlled. Cement by itself is not enough to build – you need steel, metal (rock) and sand. I’m the binder – to make concrete and plaster."

In the local market, the manufacturer had expected a growth of around 6-7 per cent but has seen growth slip to only four percent growth.

"People can’t afford to build – costs are going up," Fernando said.

The government has brought cement under price control through the consumer affairs authority along with a number of other items it considers as ’essential items’.

But Fernando told LBO in an interview that it was unfair to control cement prices and not those of other building materials.

"When the price of sand is skyrocketing, the prices of metal and iron are skyrocketing, what is the earthly use of controlling the price of cement?"

Cement accounts for only a small part of the costs of building, he noted.

In any case, Holcim has not increased prices by more than 10 percent each year, he added.