Carib Cement is now preparing for its US$100m expansion - a project that was placed on hold nearly a year ago while the company awaited a response to its demand for a duty hike on imported cement. Yesterday the company confirmed that it was about to reopen talks with the lead financier of the project, following last week’s news that the government had gazetted the 40.83 per cent duty on all imported brands. The company had argued that a secured local market was a critical requirement for financing by their bankers. In July the Antidumping & Subsidies Commission recommended that a 25.83 per cent safeguard duty be added to the existing 15 per cent CET on imported cement, bringing the total duties payable to 40.83 per cent.
"They’ve instructed us to push ahead so we’ve reopened discussions with the International Finance Corporation (IFC)," Anthony Haynes, Carib Cement’s general manager, told the Business Observer yesterday. The IFC is the lead financier of the project. The instruction for the project to proceed with full pace followed a recent joint-meeting of the boards of Carib Cement and its parent company, Trinidad Cement Limited (TCL).
Haynes disclosed that Carib Cement would also be nominating three regional finance houses which they had short-listed for the IFC "to consider when they are putting together the package". Among the regional finance houses thought to be vying for inclusion are: Capital and Credit Merchant Bank, Jamaica Money Market Brokers, and RBTT. The company will also seek capital from the local equities market.
The general manager outlined other preparations underway: "We’re meeting this Thursday and Friday with one of the leading cement equipment suppliers in the world, and internally, we basically have our project team in place." Haynes said the company expected to start site development work by next April, and that roughly 600 workers would be involved at the peak of civil construction phase.