Minister accuses cement makers of taking advantage of rise in dollar to inflate price

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Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Ahmed Dangiwa, has accused cement manufacturers in the country of taking advantage of the rise in dollar against the naira to increase the price of cement.

The Minister who was reacting to the increase in the price of cement which recently shot up out of the reach of ordinary Nigerians, prompting the government to set up a committee to meet with the manufacturers in a bid to bring down the price.

The meeting which held on Monday in Abuja was able to bring a truce as the manufacturers agreed that the price of cement across the country should be pegged at between N7,000 and N8,000.

The meeting had in attendance the Minister of Works, David Umahi, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr Doris Uzoka-Anite as well as manufacturers of BUA Cement, Dangote Cement, Lafarge and Cement Producers Association.

Dangiwa who spoke on Tuesday in Abuja during another meeting with the cement manufacturers, described the rising prices as a crisis for housing delivery and the construction industry in the country.

While addressing the manufacturers during the meeting, Dangiwa said:

“The gas supply that constitutes a chunk percentage of cement manufacturers production costs, is produced in Nigeria, but may not be enough. But some of the manufacturers will just go behind that and take advantage of it.

“The mining equipment is bought and used for years. Maybe it was bought at a lower price, but because now the dollar is high, that is used as a reason.

“The government stopped the importation of cement in order to empower local producers to produce more. If the government opens the borders for mass importation of cement, the price will crash. There will be no business for the local manufacturers and at the same time, the prices will go down.”

Responding on behalf of the manufacturers, Executive Secretary of Cement Manufacturers’ Association of Nigeria (CMAN), James Salako, said the association does not have control over prices.

“In CMAN, we have a cardinal principle not to discuss price. We must not discuss it because of competition law. We are conscious about it. So when it comes to the issue of pricing, it is individual companies that have their own policies,” he said.

Group Chief Commercial Officer at Dangote Industries, Rabiu Umar, who also spoke, said:

“We are willing to see what we can do in terms of putting some mechanics to control the prices which in reality are not purely within our control but we are willing to work with the government.”

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