The Federal Government of Nigeria has lamented the high price of cement in the country, warning that it may be forced to open the borders for bagged cement to come in unless stakeholders in the sector find an immediate solution to the problem.
President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, who spoke through the Minister of Commerce and Industry, Chief Charles Ugwu stated that his administration would no longer tolerate the situation whereby Nigerians continue to complain about the high cement prices, insisting that local producers of cement must find a way out of the situation.
Ugwu, who was speaking at the 13th meeting of stakeholders in the cement sub-sector in Abuja, reiterated that government may have no option but to reverse the policy on ban of imported bagged cement .
Telling the stakeholders that government was no longer comfortable with the situation in the cement and wants an immediate solution to the problem, Ugwu added that "Mr. President has told me that the situation must change. He wants me to ensure that the price situation in the cement industry is looked into as quickly as possible.
According to him "You may recall that government restricted import of bagged cement to encourage local production. But this seems to be having a negative effect as prices have continued to rise to the detriment of the building industry.
"You all have done well in the areas of investment for bagging plants for cement. We realise that it is not easy. What is worrisome is that prices have remained high. We want to know what has gone wrong and find a way out of it. The shortfall in production is also a source of concern"
"I am aware of the difficulties but what do we do in the meantime? We need to agree on a price that is fair to all. But if after this meeting we are not able to find a reasonable way out, I may have no other option but to recommend to the President that we open up the borders and allow bagged cement to come back. That could be an extreme measure if we don’t find a solution. We know of the costs and difficulties but we want solutions now" he added.