The Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce focused primarily on alleviating the problems that arose from the shortage of cement, basic food commodities such as flour and rice and the scrap metal operations.
In addressing the cement shortage, agreements were made in September, for local cement importers to benefit from a reduction on the fee levied by the Port Authority of Jamaica to inspect each tonne of the product.
This inspection fee, which would be reduced from US$5 to US$1 until March 31, 2008, would allow importers to bring more cement into the island.
Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Karl Samuda said the US$5 tariff posed a serious challenge for importers of the commodity noting that "when you consider the increased cost of freight from China, and the devaluation. and warehouse cost, and so Cabinet and the Port Authority have agreed to reduce this fee from US$5 to US$1, which I understand will make a significant difference and enable the importers to go ahead, because they would be assured of some margins."
By October, plans were finalized for the delivery of some 5000t of cement from Cuba into the island to ease the shortage.
This followed the visit of a team consisting of representatives from the Ministry, the Airports Authority of Jamaica and the Port Authority of Jamaica to Cuba to finalize arrangements for the importation of some 40,000 tonnes of cement, which would arrive into the island on a phased basis.
In making the announcement, Minister Samuda pointed out that a regular supply of 5000 tonnes of cement should be arriving from Cuba each month totaling the 40,000 tonnes promised.