The Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Commerce is yet to announce what steps will be taken regarding the waiver on the Common External Tariff (CET) for extra-regional cement imports, which comes to an end this month.
On October 3 the ministry held meetings at its South Road office with cement importers to discuss cement-related issues.
At that meeting the representative of cement importer R&R International asked the government to extend the cement waiver, arguing that the regional cement supplier will have a monopoly in the market. Large users of cement have also said that a monopoly will contribute to increased cement prices. However, the regional cement supplier Trinidad Cement Limited (TCL), whose subsidiary here is TCL Guyana Inc (TGI) has called for the waiver to be discontinued and the CET to be restored.
This call was made on the grounds that TGI can supply around 12,000 tonnes of cement which the market needs per month. TGI is a cement bagging facility that has the capacity to bag 30,000 tonnes of cement per month, but currently only bags a quantity to meet its market share which is over 50%. TGI has also contended that this is not an issue of price but it is one of principle, where the CET rules must be applied once the regional company can meet demand.
On Tuesday at the Guyana International Conference Center, Tourism, Industry and Commerce Minister Manniram Prashad had told Stabroek News that Cabinet that day had considered the current cement market; however, the minister was called to attend a meeting President Bharrat Jagdeo was having with the Commonwealth Business Council (CBC) and was unable to give further details.
Since that time Stabroek News has been unable to gain information on Cabinet’s discussion in relation to cement.