New Telegraph

‘Cement Price Can Be Lower Than FG, Manufacturers’ Projection’

The National Association of Block Moulders of Nigeria (NABMON) says the agreement between the Federal Government and three major cement manufacturers that a 50kg bag of cement, for now, is not supposed to sell for more than N7,000 to N8,000 is faulty. The National President, Mr Adesegun Banjoko, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos. Recall that the parties, at a meeting on Monday, said that the ideal price of a 50kg bag of cement for now should be between ₦7,000.00 and ₦8,000.00 depending on location. They agreed that the current higher prices of cement in parts of the country were abnormal. The main manufacturers of cement in the country are Dangote Plc, BUA Plc and Lafarge Plc. According to Banjoko, there is no reason for the price of cement to be sold even at the projected prices, since limestone, which is a key ingredient, is readily available in Nigeria. He expressed fears that the high price would lead to corner-cutting and building collapse.

The NABMON president ex- pressed the belief that the government and manufacturers could do better and offer lower prices. He suggested a reduction or elimination of customs duties on other imported materials used in cement production, adding that this would incentivise manufacturers to lower their prices. He, therefore, proposed a target price of ₦3,500 to ₦5,000 per bag. Banjoko said: “There are three issues that make me disagree with the government and the main manufacturers. “First, limestone is sourced in Nigeria; agreed they have some few other materials they bring in from abroad. “But if the government is really concerned about life and property lost to building collapse, they should either remove custom duties on such items or reduce them by half to encourage the manufacturers to come down to between N3, 500 and N5, 000.”

He also advised the government to temporarily halt road construction projects that use cement. Banjoko said that this would free up available cement for vital projects and potentially reduce demand, leading to lower prices. The NABMON president warned that the high price of cement had added to the existing tensions in the country. He urged the government to act cautiously with essential commodities like cement, emphasising its impact on public well-being. Just yesterday, the Federal Government threatened cement producers, saying it would open the boarders for free importation of the products if they fail to bring down the price. The Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Ahmed Dangiwa, who issued the threat, said key materials for cement production such as limestone, clay, silica sand, and gypsum, sourced within the nation’s borders, should not be dollar-rated.

According to him, the price of gas that manufacturers are using as an excuse is not tenable because gas is a raw material found within the country. He added that the excuse of an increase in mining equipment should not come up because equipment bought by the manufacturers have been used for decades and not purchased every day. The minister said the border was closed to the importation of cement to help local manufacturers. However, he noted that if the government decides to open the border for mass importation, prices of cement would crash and local manufacturers would be gravely affected. The minister, who called on the manufacturers to be more patriotic, said BUA Cement, for instance, had been willing and is still willing as at the last time he spoke with them to crash the price of their cement, lower than the N7000, N8000 agreed by the manufacturers and he sees no reason why the others should not do same.

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