Carib Cement has turned to Cuba to help supplement its cement production, following the shortfall that the company says was due to inclement weather in October last year. The company, which faced criticisms in Jamaica for its failure to meet local demand, after having been given a virtual monopoly in the local market, faced a 40,000t shortfall or just about four per cent of its normal output. The cement manufacturer had initially publicly stated that it was looking to its sister firm Arawak Cement in Barbados to make up the deficit - and in fact bought bag cements from that regional firm between December and January. However, last week, the company’s marketing manager Alice Hyde confirmed that the bulk version came from Cuba.
While the cement imported from Cuba was far less expensive than the brand out of Barbados, it attracted a 40 per cent duty because Cuba is not a member of Caricom. "Because Barbados is a member of the Caricom Community the CET (common external tariff) is not applicable in this case," said Hyde in responding to questions posed by the Business Observer. "Therefore, the 40 per cent duty would not be applicable."
Checks made by local newspaper, Business Observer, with Customs revealed that between December and January, there were two shipments of cement into the island - one 8000t of bagged ordinary portland cement, and the other, 3253t of bulk portland grey cement. The latter was from Cuba.
The import from Cuba was brought to the attention of the Business Observer because of reports of a complaint about the quality of the product from one construction site. However, while the Bureau of Standard confirmed that it had fielded a single complaint, it said that all the tests done on the product from Cuba produced positive results. However, the Bureau did not say whether this complaint specifically related to the product imported from Cuba. Carib Cement also said the specification of the Cuban cement had surpassed the Bureau’s standards.