The former Press Secretary to the President and a New Patriotic Party
presidential aspirant, Kwabena Agyei Agyepong, has made a passionate appeal
for the creation of a department of fair trade under the Ministry of Trade
to ensure that companies operating in the country do not cheat their
customers by charging exorbitant prices.
Mr Agyepong’s demand comes in the wake of his crusade against the duopoly
of Ghana Cement (GHACEM) and Diamond Cement, as well as the prohibitive
prices their products sell at which forced Trade Minister Allan Kyeremanten
to threaten to fix control prices for the commodity.
Kwabena Agyepong, who has been crusading against recent hikes in cement
prices, said GHACEM is structured in such a way as to favour the company
and, although he believes in a liberal economic environment, there is the
need to ensure that the customer is not taken for a ride.
"I haven’t seen any country in the world where cement is sold at US$4 [per
bag] as a retail price, but now we are buying it at US$12; this is
completely irresponsible and I have made it clear that there is something
wrong with the way they build up their prices at GHACEM."
“I do not think that GHACEM pays its workers higher than the cement
companies in Russia and the USA and conditions pertaining to the cost of
production cannot be higher than those in Europe or America. It doesn’t
matter the kind of freight they are talking about.”
He said he was aware of companies that are prepared to land already finished
cement products for close to US$60 in the country. Asked if he could quote a
price at which a bag of cement should be sold in the country, he did not
give a specific figure. He, however, underscored that the current price is
too much and, because the commodity is a strategic one in Ghana’s
development, entrepreneurs should be encouraged to bring in finished
products which are much cheaper.
He called for a deliberate attempt by Ghana as a country to encourage
businesses to get into cement production to break the duopoly of GHACEM and