Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, Minister of Trade & Industry, is said to be busily issuing cement licences to Chinese importers to import substandard cement even before a nine-member committee mandated by Parliament and the Trade Ministry to handle such matters meets on Tuesday, 6th September.
One of such permits sighted by BUSINESS GUIDE at the weekend and presented to Fujian Cement Company Limited in Accra, has authorised the Chinese company to import 500,000 metric tonnes of cement, which is more than the manufacturing capacity of the Bui Cement Factory in northern Ghana.
Dated 24th August, 2016, the licence would expire on 23rd August, 2017.
The Monitoring Committee was put in place to implement and enforce the provisions of the L.I. 2240; advise the Minister on matters in relation to the import of Portland Cement and related matters; make recommendations to the Minister on the pricing of Portland Cement; the quantities of Portland Cement to be imported for commercial purposes; and the local production of Portland Cement, among others.
In view of the foregoing, engaging in any deals before the committee meets is unwarranted.
Plight of local manufacturers
Local cement manufacturers have in recent times bemoaned the unbridled importation of inferior cement products.
This has also affected their profit margins which have further hampered their ability to employ more people.
Under-declaration of duties
L.I. 2240 Export And Import (Restrictions on Importation of Portland Cement) Regulations, 2016 was put together to help check the rise in under-declaration.
The committee comprises a nominee from the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Ghana Ports & Habours Authority, Standards Authority, Ministry of Environment, Ghana Real Estate Developers Association, Cement Manufacturers’ Association of Ghana, Association of Ghana Industries and Ghana Union of Traders Association.
The first meeting of the committee, which is scheduled for Tuesday, 6th September, 2016, has been superseded by the alleged underhand dealings.
In a brief interview with Dr George Dawson-Ahmoah, chairman of the Ghana Cement Manufacturers Association (GCMA) on phone, he doubted the incident but added: “I would be very much disappointed if it were true.”
The representative of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) on the Cement Monitoring Committee, in interview, pleaded for more time to do due diligence.
BUSINESS GUIDE will focus on the outcome of the investigations into the matter and inform readers accordingly.
Source: Daily Guide
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