Two shipments from Cuba are expected in June, two in July and a fifth in August. The Jamaican government yesterday announced a three-month waiver on the 15 per cent tariff paid by private importers of cement, as it moves to ease the shortage of the product. The announcement came a day after the administration announced that it was about to sign an agreement with Cuba for the importation of cement to fill the current shortage.
In a statement, the Minister of Industry, Commerce, Science and Technology Phillip Paulwell said that the government would waive the tariff on imported cement to meet the shortfall triggered by a quality control problem at the sole local source, the Caribbean Cement Company, in Rockfort, Kingston. However, Paulwell said that the waiver would be awarded on a case-by-case basis "for specific, time-bound, confirmed orders of cement", and urged importers to seek supplies from near sources.
The duty on imported cement was as high as 40 per cent up to early March, when the government reduced it to 15 per cent in an effort to encourage private firms to import the product to fill the gap created by the CCC’s cut in production, in reaction to the quality control controversy. The shortage has severely affected construction projects, including employment, and hardware businesses.
Paulwell said last night that the volume of cement needed immediately to correct the shortfall was about 100,000t.
Some 72,000t of bulk and bagged cement is expected from Cuba, but the first shipment will not arrive before next month and the final shipment in August.