Venezuela will soon receive 500,000t of cement from Cuba to help relieve local shortages of the construction material, Venezuelan press quoted President Hugo Chávez as saying.
Chávez explained to listeners of his Sunday radio program that during his recent visit to Cuba, President Fidel Castro told him he was aware of the shortages of cement in Venezuela and offered help.
"We are going to receive Cuban cement, which is very good and much cheaper than the monopolized cement here," Chávez was quoted as saying by Cadena Global.
"Here the cement plants were privatised and Venezuelan cement is one of the most expensive in the world," added the president.
Chávez has consistently attacked the high prices of cement in Venezuela, citing this as one of the reasons for the high cost of developing infrastructure in the country.
He has also recently announced the construction of two new cement plants, one in Monagas state in the east of the country and the other in Lara to the west, "to force [the cement companies] to lower prices."
Due to the escalation in cement costs, the government has seen it necessary to set a regulated price of 9,450 bolívares (US$3.55) for a 42.5kg sack of cement. This means that the cement being sent from Cuba will be worth over US$41mn at these prices.
The Venezuelan authorities will pay for the cement with either domestically produced goods or surplus oil.