Zambia has no intention to waive duty on imported cement because the emphasis for the economy is to enhance production of the commodity locally, a government minister has said.
Times of Zambia Tuesday quoted Finance Minister Ngandu Magande as saying that cement producers should instead come up with measures to increase production rather than concentrate on importing.
He said in Lusaka that importing cement is not sustainable for the economy. "We have no intentions to slash duty on cement imports. Why should we give jobs to other people when we can produce more cement to sustain the domestic economy?" he asked.
Cement prices have been escalating locally because of increased demand.
Some analysts have since proposed that the government introduces short-term tax incentives to strengthen the levels of cement imports.
Zambia’s cement market is currently dominated by the Chilanga Cement Plc, a branch company to the French construction group Lafarge.
Chilanga is only capable of producing 700,000 tons of cement annually, far behind the country’s increasing demand thanks to the booming economy, especially the fast-growing construction sector.
The Zambian government has also lifted the restrictions on the importation of cement late last year to meet the market demand.
Cement price has hiked to 60,000 kwacha (about 14 U.S. dollars ) per 50-kg pocket from 35,000 kwacha (8 dollars) in early 2006.