The Jamaica government has announced an 80 per cent reduction in the taxes paid by importers of cement as the island seeks to deal with a shortage.
Industry Minister Karl Samuda told reporters that the reduction of the tax is geared towards filling the current demand for cement, estimated at nearly 95,000t. "I made representation to the Cabinet, and the Cabinet agreed to our proposal and the Port Authority of Jamaica concurred with the wishes to reduce the cess from US$5-$1 which I understand will make a significant difference and enable the importers to go ahead because they will be assured of some margin," he said.
Samuda said that as a result the shortage now being experienced in the country is likely to be something of the past.
"We are hoping and we are expecting that 30,000 tons of cement will be imported into the island and will arrive here towards the end of October and another 30,000 will be arriving in November," he said noting that it would be in addition to the 75,000 tons that would be made available by the local cement industry.
The announcement by the government comes on the heel of an eight per cent hike in the price of the commodity by the Caribbean Cement Company (CCC), the sole producers here.
CCC has defended its decision and the company’s general manager Anthony Haynes blamed the depreciation of the Jamaican dollar among other factors for the price increase.
"Because of oil which has now risen and the company had no choice but to pass on the increase to consumers," he said.