Ghacem Ltd has reiterated its call on Government to ensure a level and fair playing field for all manufacturers and marketing entities in the sector.
A level playing field, according to Dr. George Dawson-Ahmoah, Strategy and Corporate Affairs Director of Ghacem, would enable domestic cement industries such as Ghacem and its current domestic competitor based in Aflao could continue to create employment for Ghanaians, add value to the use of local raw materials and remain major contributors to the economy.
The Ghacem Executive also called on Government to remove or reduce the five per cent import duties imposed on raw materials for the production of cement as a means of bringing down cement prices.
Ghacem’s repeated appeals come in the wake of declarations by two Ministers of State that Government intends further liberalising the cement sector and granting licences to importers of the commodity as a way of bringing down the soaring prices of cement.
Government indications of further cement sector liberalisation were given at two separate public functions last week by Hon. Albert Kan Dapaah and the Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing, Hon. Hackman Owusu-Agyeman.
Touching exhaustively on cement price increases for the commodity, Dr. Dawson-Ahmoah said Ghacem had always had the opportunity to explain to key stakeholders the rationale behind such hikes. He asserted that the major component of the product, clinker, was imported and has in recent years, seen tremendous increases in clinker costs to Ghacem production plants.
A major factor accounting for increased clinker costs, he stated, could be attributed to international sea freight costs, which were ever-increasing as a result of high growth of the Chinese economy and the consequent high demand for sea-freight vessels.
Dr. Dawson-Ahmoah noted that between July 2005 and December 2006 for example, clinker prices, including sea freight costs, have increased by 30.4 per cent but that cement price increases had not gone up to that level "because Ghacem had been mostly absorbing the higher clinker cost."
He pointed out that by comparison with neighbouring and other African countries, Ghacem prices were the lowest. "That is a fact and that can be easily ascertained, via the Internet for example," he declared.
Dr. Dawson-Ahmoah explained that Ghacem sells a bag of cement for c51, 500 (excluding VAT and NHIL) at its factories in Takoradi and Tema and added, "Taxes which alone add up to 15 per cent and the cost of transportation by individual transporters are major components of the pricing of cement in the open market.
Ghacem has absolutely no control over such factors and Ghacem can only appeal to government and other partners in the sector to assist in bringing down cement prices," he added.