Ghana: Govt Has Duty to Regulate Cement Prices

Trade and Industry Minister, K T Hammond, has underscored the need for the government to intervene to protect the consumer from what he described as the “haphazard” increment in cement prices by manufacturers.

As a result he said, the government had taken the decision to introduce a legislation to control the pricing of the commodity in the country.

His attempt to, however, submit the Legislative Instrument (LI) to the House on Wednesday was blocked by the Minority for lack of consultation.

The Second Deputy Speaker, Andrew Asiamah Amoako, who was presiding directed Mr Hammond to have pre-laying conversations with stakeholders before bringing the Instrument.

Speaking with journalists after proceedings, Mr KT Hammond said all attempts to engage the manufacturers on their prices have proved futile.

“I asked them to ensure that something was done about it. In my absence, I heard that I won’t be able to do anything so they would not listen and that they would go the way they want,” he said.

If the manufacturers are refusing to budge, KT Hammond, MP, Adansi Asokwa, said he had the moral duty to ensure that manufacturers abide by fair economic principles.

“Well, I have only one other avenue, encouraging them to do it is moral persuasion, if moral persuasion fails there is a system in the country, there is a constitution, and we all operate by the rule of law. So if the constitution mandates me to bring LI, I will bring the LI to ensure that somebody abides by some economic principle. If we don’t accept the moral principle, at least some sort of economic principle, the good people of Ghana must benefit,” he said.

Apart from the pricing, he said the standard of the commodity had also become a concern which must be addressed.

“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 mentioned.

The exorbitant cement prices, he said, were unjustified with Ghana having become self-sufficient in the building material.

“At a point in time, we were 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 behooves on those in responsible positions of 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.