Trade Minister defends L.I. regulating cement prices, says manufacturers were consulted

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Trade and Industry Minister Kobina Tahir (K.T.) Hammond has mounted a spirited defence of his controversial Legislative Instrument (L.I.) seeking to regulate cement prices in the country.

Contrary to manufacturers’ claims, he insisted that they have been consulted.

Attempts to lay the document in Parliament on Tuesday, June 26, were blocked by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Members of Parliament, who insisted the L.I. must first be discussed.

Speaking to journalists in Parliament on Wednesday, June 26, K.T. Hammond noted that cement prices have been consistently escalating, and something must be done about it.

He insisted that the L.I. is necessary to prevent a cartel of cement manufacturers from exploiting the public.

At a point in time, we are not producing so much cement in the country. Now we have an installed capacity of over 11 million tons in the country. Our demand is nothing like 11 million, so it must be a very profitable enterprise.

“But I think it behoves those in responsible positions in authority to ensure that the good people of Ghana are not fleeced. I am not comfortable, I don’t believe that we’re getting good prizes for all that it’s worth,” he said.

The Trade Minister claimed that there is something fundamentally wrong with cement pricing in the country, emphasising that every sector of the economy requires cement.

“Now I take the view that it’s about time that the country was better served by those who are selling this product to us.

“You have a kind of arbitrariness in the pricing of cement. It’s been so haphazard, I strongly believe that there must be some sanity in the system,” K.T. Hammond said.

On Tuesday, June 25, the Chamber of Cement Manufacturers said they had not been consulted on the constitutional instrument.

However, responding to these claims, K.T. Hammond indicated that he had made several attempts to engage the manufacturers morally, but without success.

He said he now feels compelled to introduce a law to ensure manufacturers sell cement at reasonable prices.

“I asked them to ensure that something was done about it. In my absence, I was told that the minister wasn’t going to be able to do anything. They would not listen, they wouldn’t do it, and they would go the way they want.

“Encouraging them to do it is a moral persuasion. If moral persuasion fails, there is a system in the country, there’s a constitution, and we are preyed by a rule of law.”

The Trade Minister said there are laws governing the country, and if the constitution mandates him to bring an L.I. to regulate cement pricing, he will do so to ensure compliance.

“If we don’t accept the moral principle, at least some sort of economic principle, the good people of Ghana must benefit. I don’t think it is fair for the way they are pricing and the way, haphazardly each one of them decides and dictates how much a bag of cement should be sold for.

“This is quite apart from the quality that they are producing. Some of the companies are producing substandard products. We have had to deal with this matter,” he said.


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