Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) spokesperson on industry, commerce and investment, Senator Shirley Williams, has urged the government to immediately restore normality to the construction industry by permitting the importation of cement by the at the previous duty rate of 15 per cent.
"The undertaking by the Caribbean Cement Company to import cement commencing the first week of December, is too little too late. While distributors continue to receive 50 per cent or less of their normal supplies, construction sites have either slowed or closed," Williams said in a statement.
"By the time imported cement reaches the distributive trade, the industry would have closed, as it does customarily at that time of the year," she added.
The JLP spokesperson said the sector has over the past several weeks incurred significant losses in production with attendant cost overruns because of the cement shortage.
"Persons wishing to import cement are prevented from doing so by the prevailing duty of 40 per cent, which, in addition to GCT and other import duties, compound to a total of 66.37 per cent which will only further increase the losses accruing to contractors and developers, large and small.
"In the circumstances, the government is obliged to issue quotas for the importation of cement in quantities to address the backlog in a timely manner at affordable rates of duty," she said.
The cement company said Thursday that it would be importing 40,000t of the product to alleviate the shortage, with the first 16,000t expected from Barbados next month