Cement price skyrockets in Guyana

Cement price skyrockets in Guyana
Published: 14 February 2006

The retail price of cement has hit G$1600 per sack (US$8.44 or an equivalent US$168/tonne on the basis of a 50kg sack) at some outlets outside the city and shows signs that it might increase further as demand is expected to grow(report local news sources).  The 2006 National Budget has projected over five per cent growth in the engineering and construction industries after similar expansion last year.

Cement prices ended last year at just below G$1200 per sack after retailing for G$1080 to G$1110 earlier in the year. In a recent interview, Tony Amres of Readymix Concrete Ltd said the demand for cement was picking up, since sunnier days are here. Ongoing construction of the stadium for Cricket World Cup, the Skeldon Sugar factory and cogeneration plant, the building of homes for cricket visitors and hotel and home construction are putting a strain on cement supplies.

At Barrow’s Hardware Store in Linden there was no cement, but the latest retail price was G$1600 per sack. Proprietor Dunstan Barrow said the product was in short supply in Linden and if anyone had it in stock the price might be higher than G$1600. He said Omai Bauxite Inc had placed an order for cement but the store was not able to fill this order. Omai had ordered two slings (70 sacks).

Boodhoo’s General Store at Parika had Venezuelan cement retailing at G$1380 per sack, purchased from Fidelity Investment Inc (FII) two weeks ago. Manager Jai Ramroop estimated that it would be sold out in the next three weeks.

A. Ally and Sons at 15-19 Main and Cooper’s Lane, New Amsterdam was retailing Venezuelan cement at G$1500 per sack.

Imam Bacchus and Sons Ltd General Store at Affiance, Essequibo Coast was retailing at G$1500 per sack. The manager at Imam Bacchus said the stock he now has could last a while, since the largest single sale at any one time did not exceed 15 sacks. Bacchus’ supply was purchased from Toolsie Persaud Limited two weeks ago. During the week, Toolsie Persaud Ltd had no cement but was expecting TCL cement shortly.

In 2004, Guyana faced an acute cement shortage, which drove prices up and prompted the government to drop the Common External Tariff (CET) on cement, so that suppliers could import extra-regionally. Supplies were shaky early last year but after a major supplier came into play, this had halted the rising cement prices.

Last April, Trinidad Cement Ltd (TCL) cut its monthly supply to Guyana by 6000t citing an increase of extra-regional cement to this country. TCL is now constructing a bagging terminal at the Guyana National Industrial Corporation (GNIC) in an effort to improve its supply.

In August 2004, FII, which has ties to the Guyana Fire Life and General Insurance Company (GuyFlag), came on the scene and greatly assisted in improving the cement supply by importing over 10,000t of cement monthly from Venezuela. But even FII had no cement in stock last week, though it was expecting some soon.

Meanwhile, RNK International Inc had promised in advertisements last year, to make large shipments of cement available in Guyana. Stabroek News was unable to contact, Rizwan N. Khan, managing director of RNK to ascertain the status of this venture. RNK had planned to wholesale the product at G$1100 per sack and to offer it to religious organisations at G$800 per sack per sling.