The rise in Guyanian cement prices is stalling low-income builders who can no longer afford the product. Fidelity Investment Inc (FII) which imports large quantities of Venezuelan cement is now retailing the product for G$2000 a sack, after charging G$1600 a sack up to last Wednesday. The president of FII had indicated on Tuesday that Guyanese should get accustomed to buying cement at G$2000 a sack.
Housewife Aleon Nurse of Dennis Street, Sophia told Stabroek News that her husband began building a concrete home three years ago and had planned to complete it this year, but was unable to pay the high price for cement. In January, the Nurses were able to buy 20 sacks at G$1200 each, but the price kept increasing. A week or two ago, the couple had planned to buy some 10 to 15 sacks of cement but the price had increased to G$1600 and they were unable to. "It keeping us back," Aleon Nurse said.
The Nurses plan to wait until the price goes down to G$1200 or G$1100 before they continue building. This housewife told Stabroek News that her family definitely could not afford to buy cement at G$2000 a sack.
Managing Director of Readymix Concrete Ltd, Tony Amres said "the problem is the uncertainty," noting that one could no longer determine supply or price, since prices are increasing almost on a daily basis. This situation makes it difficult to plan. "Those people who are building... I mean I feel sorry for them," he added. The Assistant Mortgage Manager at the New Building Society (NBS) told Stabroek News that clients have expressed concern over the rising cost of building materials, especially cement. The manager explained that once a loan was taken for a certain amount, even if circumstances arose that were beyond the control of the borrower such as higher cement prices, the borrower would have to put in the additional sum or stop building.
Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Manzoor Nadir, a strong critic of importers who raise prices indiscriminately, in a GINA press release on Thursday, condemned importers who are retailing cement at G$2000 a sack. Nadir said that from estimates, importers of the Trinidad Cement Ltd (TCL) brand, are bringing cement into Guyana at a cost of G$850 a sack and selling it for double that price. "We are not saying people should not make their money. But many persons including some importers, are using the opportunity to price gouge the consumers," the minister was quoted in the release as saying.
Nadir explained that the government did not want to get back to a system of price controls.It was reported that talks are still ongoing with Caracas to obtain 20,000t to 30,000t of cement. In addition, talks have also started with a private cement supplier from Trinidad and Tobago.