The Cement Manufacturers Association of Ghana (CMAG) has expressed dismay at Minister of Trade & Industry, Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, for offering a permit to a Chinese to import 500,000 metric tons of cement into Ghana without the approval of the Cement Monitoring Committee established by government.
According to the association, which currently comprises GHACEM Limited, Tcma; GHACEM Limited, Takoradi; Diamond Cement Ghana Limited, Aflao; Savanna Diamond Company Limited, Buipe and Western Diamond Cement Limited, Takoradi, such behaviour by the Minister foment unfair trade practices in the country.
Dr George Dawson-Ahmoah, Chairman of CMAG, at a press conference in Tema yesterday, said "from 2014 to date, Ghana has been witnessing the importation of cement mainly from China to compete with local manufacturers."
Job cuts inevitable
He said local manufacturers altogether directly employ 3,000 people and offer 10,000 indirect jobs.
"The continuous up swelling of cement imports will compel local manufacturers to scale down operations and the negative economic consequences are so obvious to mention.
The total average financial contribution in terms of indirect and direct taxes, duties etc, paid to the government by local cement manufacturing companies stands at about ?700 million.
"It is therefore mind-boggling to see the ascendancy of cement imports from China by SOL and Fujian, and from Korea and Nigeria by Dangote cement, despite persistent petitions that manufacturers have installed capacities to meet local demand."
there was another cement factory coming up by the end of 2016 in the Free Zones enclave at Tema with a total capacity of 1 million tones per annum."
Legislative Instrument 2240
Recently, the Ministry of Trade &Industry, in collaboration with Cabinet, Parliament, and the support of the local cement manufacturers, passed the Legislative instrument (L.I.) 2240 to regulate exports and imports of Portland Cement.
Shockingly, a permit for 500,000 tonnes of bagged cement has been signed and issued by the Minister of Trade & Industry without recourse to procedures enshrined in the LI.
"Cement manufacturers condemn this illegal, disrespectful act which is injurious to the local cement industry. Apart from the Minister's disregard to the inherent procedural arrangement of regulations clearly spelt out in the L.I. 2240, we, the local cement manufacturers, maintain that this menace poses a setback and challenge to the Ministry of Trade & Industry and the Association of Ghana Industries' promotion of made-in-Ghana products and the sustenance of thousands of jobs.
"We, the cement manufacturers, demand that the Minister revokes this permit not because we are preventing competition but the manner that it was issued violates the procedures as enshrined in the L.I."
The association therefore appealed to government agencies, including Ghana Revenue Authority (Customs Division); Ghana Ports & Harbours Authority, Ghana Standards Authority, Ghana Shippers Authority, to investigate the importation of bagged cement from 1st August, 2016 before clearance.
"How much fee did Fujian Cement Company pay to the Ministry of Trade & Industry?"