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Govt concerned with rising cement prices

By Mike Van Kamande

Lilongwe, July 24: Minister of Trade and Industry Simplex Chithyola Banda says the increasing cement prices are affecting both the private and public sectors especially government construction projects.

Speaking on Monday when he met Captains of the Cement Industry in Lilongwe Chithyola Banda said government is aware that the private sector in general and the cement industry in particular is going through challenges such as forex scarcity causing price movements.

“We have received complaints from the general public about the high cement prices on the market some as high as K20,000 per pocket. Government has big ongoing projects which need a lot of cement hence the shortage must be resolved promptly to mitigate high prices,” he said.

Chithyola Banda said his ministry will be communicating with the ministry of finance to assist with forex to enable the cement companies buy clinker and other raw materials.

Cement Product Limited (CPL) Managing Director Asiam Gaffar said cement companies should not be blamed for the skyrocketing prices because they have not raised prices.

“The shortage of cement on the market and the rising prices is due to acute shortage of raw materials which has resulted in scaling down of production by some players.

The hiking of cement from around K13,000 to K20,000 per pocket by importers is sabotage to the local industry and we need to source forex to upgrade machinery and increase production,” Gaffar said.

Shayona Cement Managing Director Rajesh Patel said the cement players are not happy with the increased price of cement products in the country stressing his company is producing at 25 percent capacity due to scarcity of forex and inability to import clinker.

Portland Cement Chief Executive Officer Jianguo Lin said the coal they buy from Northern Malawi has so much Sulphur that cause kiln stoppages necessitating coal imports from Zimbabwe to blend with.

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