The Sri Lankan construction industry is experiencing a shortage of cement and the Minister of Construction and Engineering Services Rajitha Senarathna held talks with the market leaders yesterday to solve the problem.
The meeting presided by Minister Bandula Gunawardena was attended by Minister Senaratne, Trade Ministry Secretary R. M. K. Ratnayake and cement manufacturers and Importers.
Cement is an essential commodity under Consumer protection Act and the cement importers have sought permission of the Consumer Affairs Authority to increase the price.
A 50 kg bag of cement is sold at the maximum price of Rs.692 in Sri Lanka market and some importers have suspended importing due to lack of profits.
Local cement manufacturers produce around 90,000 50-kg bags per day but it can cater only around 30% of the local market.
However, Minister Senaratne assured attendees at the meeting that the current shortages will ease and there will be ample stocks available in the market at existing prices by next week.
The two ministers requested producers and importers to prevent any scarcity of cement in the market and both parties agreed to ensure ample stocks in the market by next week.
Chairman Holcim Cement Manilal Fernando said the current shortage was only temporary.
There was no reason for there to be any shortage of cement and they would request consumers not to panic as the market would return to normal with ample supplies by next week.
Consumers need not pay anything extra for the cement they purchase as prices would remain at the existing level. Minister Rajitha Senaratne said he convened the meeting because construction sector organisations informed him about a shortage of cement.
He also took the matter up in the Cabinet and on the instructions of the President they took steps to solve the problem by convening a meeting of cement producers and importers.