Members of the local manufacturers of cement say they will be forced to sack over 3,000 workers should the government fail to immediately halt the reckless importation of cement from Nigeria, China and Korea.
With specific mentioning of DANGOTE cement from Nigeria, SOL cement from China and Fujian, Korea, as the three foreign competitors, the downsizing, the manufacturers hinted, could be effective between this year and first quarter of 2017 if the unfair trade practice by the two continued.
Dr. George Dawson Amoah, chairman for the Local Cement Manufacturers said, “Demand for cement in Ghana is in a surplus capacity of about three million tonnes because we have an adequate installed production capacities of eight million tonnes annually, as against consumption of about five million tones.”
Consequently, he said the deliberate signing and issuance of permit to the three foreign cement producers by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, to import 500,000 tonnes of bagged cement into the country was working against their investment.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry, in collaboration with Cabinet, Parliament and support of the Local Cement Manufacturers, passed a Legislative Instrument (LI) 2240 to regulate exports and imports of Portland cement.
The sixteen-paged LI put in place a cement monitoring committee, and Dr. Amoah told a section of the press that the signing and subsequent issuance of permit to DANGOTE, SOL and Fujian by Dr. Ekow Spio-Garbrah, Minister for Trade and Industry, to engage in the unfair trade practice was a smack of illegality, disrespectfulness and injury to the local cement industry.
“Apart from the Minister’s disregard to the inherent procedural arrangement of regulations clearly spelt out in the LI 2240, we, the local cement manufacturers, maintain that this menace poses a setback and a challenge to the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Association of Ghana Industries’ promotion of made in Ghana products.
“Furthermore, it will greatly affect the sustenance of thousands of jobs the local cement industry creates,” Dr. Amoah explained.
In addition to hinting of the over 3,000 jobs to be cut should the unfair trade practice continue, Dr. George Dawson Amoah said the imported cement by SOL, Fujian and DANGOTE was of low quality.
Albeit he was not specific on the grade that could make the imported cement a quality product for the construction industry in Ghana, he explained that the products were bagged before arrival into the country, thus, the Ghana Standards Authority could not test the cement.
Besides, the cement from China and Korea spent more than the 28 days’ testing period on sea before discharging at the harbour of Ghana “and we challenge the Ghana Standards Authority to prove us wrong by making evident their testing results for the imported cement by DANGOTE, SOL and Fujian.”
He said: “While DANGOTE is taking thousands of US dollars from our country to shore up the huge dollar deficit in Nigeria after 30 percent tax waver from the Nigerian government to DANGOTE, we the local cement manufacturers are suffering from high taxes, high import charges on raw materials and expensive tariffs.
“We are not afraid of competition but when it becomes difficult for us to protect our investment, our only option is to fold up or lay off workers and it is the state that will bear the consequence,” he noted.
The Cement Manufacturers Association of Ghana currently comprise of GHACEM Limited, Tema and Takoradi, Diamond Cement Ghana Limited, Aflao, Savanna Diamond Cement Limited, Buipe, and Western Diamond Cement Limited, Takoradi.
Dr. George Dawson Amoah said that another cement manufacturing company was coming up in the Tema Free Zones Enclave by the end of 2016, with a total capacity of one million tonnes per annum.
Considering the adequate installed capacity that the new factory would add to the existing capacity, Dr. Amoah said there was, therefore, no need to encourage cement importation into the country, ‘especially when the imported product has insignificant value addition as compared to local cement industries’ chain of added values such as industrial competence, employment, direct investment, local sub-contracting and the use of local raw materials.”
Story By: Alima Bawah/Tamale