A warning that Government’s approach to the Caricom Secretariat to have the common external tariff (CET) on cement and steel removed will only serve to hurt hundreds of thousands of shareholders-was issued by local Trinidad contractor Emile Elias.
Elias explained that the TCL shareholders that he’s referring to are those "holding shares mainly through the shares held by NIB (National Insurance Board) and UTC (the Unit Trust Corporation)".
Furthermore, Elias insisted that Cabinet has been misled by "one contractor with a self serving motive, as there’s absolutely no cement shortage. I’m calling on the Government to immediately withdraw its request to Caricom to have the CET waived," Elias said.
Trade and Industry Minister, Ken Valley on Thursday said that for some time the industry had been making representation to the Government with respect to the perceived shortage of cement, aggregate and steel in the market. Valley also admitted to talks of establishing another cement plant in the country.
Other stakeholders within the construction sector yesterday pointed out that since TCL (Trinidad Cement Limited) is insisting that there’s no cement shortage, it may be its distribution system which needs looking at.
Concern also looms that the possible opening up of the market to cement, steel and aggregate-products of inferior quality could flood the market, especially in wake of less than desirable supplies out of Asia.
Valley assured that the Bureau of Standards "will have to be beefed up" to accommodate the higher capacity and increased testing. The Minister said that while TCL has been making the point that there’s no cement shortage, the company would have to prove its case to the Secretariat with their supply of a minimum of 75 per cent of the requirement in the Caribbean.