Diamond Cement To Cut Staff By Half

Management of Diamond Cement has revealed that the company is likely to retrench about half of its workers.

The General Manager for Diamond Cement, Tati Ramarao, cites unfair competition that has resulted in low sales as a major concern which has adversely affected the firm’s operation.

“Just last month, I was compelled to sack 10 people from the marketing department in Tema because I couldn’t sustain the company’s operations. Since I am running at a loss, I cannot continue to keep the marketing staff in the company. Whatever decision that we decided to take has been and that is exactly what we will be doing,” Mr Ramarao underscored.

According to him, even though they are not happy to lay off workers “we have no other option”.

Local cement producers have raised concerns about the entry of Nigeria’s Dangote Cement into the Ghanaians market. They say Dangote is selling at prices below competition.

Mr Ramarao pointed out that the Ministry of Trade had failed to address their concerns in order to be able to keep up with competition.

“We are suffering a lot even though we have written several letters to the Ministry of Trade. There have been promises, but we have seen nothing from the state. There is neither implementation nor action at all; the situation is the same and the competition keeps getting worse,” he told Citi FM on Thursday, November 17.

Meanwhile, President John Mahama has said his government will ensure Dangote Cement competes fairly in the Ghanaian market if investigations by the Ghana International Trade Commission find that the Nigerian cement company is enjoying certain subsidies and tax holidays in Africa’s most populous country, which give it certain advantages over local cement manufacturers in Ghana.

Taking his turn on GBC’s Encounters with presidential candidates on Wednesday, Mr Mahama said Dangote brings bagged cement into Ghana under the Ecowas Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS), which allows member states to export finished products into each other’s countries.

“We’ve received a complaint from the local cement producers saying that the entrance of Dangote Cement is affecting them and that Dangote is selling at prices that are below competition. …Now we’ve passed the Ghana International Trade Commission [Bill], which is the body responsible for such complaints, and so the matter came to cabinet. We’ve discussed it and then we’ve asked the Trade Minister to put it before the Ghana International Trade Commission… So, I’m sure the first complaint they’ll get is on cement and what they’ll have to do is to find out what makes Dangote able to sell below competition. Is it that they are getting some subsidies in Nigeria, which is the accusation our cement manufacturers are making…or they are being given some tax waivers that our producers here don’t have?” the president asked.

“I don’t have that information and so the right body to investigate is the Ghana International Trade Commission…and if it is found that Dangote is being subsidised by the Nigerian government…or they are being given some waivers that make them more competitive and able to sell lower, then we might have to adjust the tariffs on their cement to reflect that and improve the competition between us. …We cannot stop the competition because of the ETLS, but we must make sure they are playing by the rules so that they don’t have an unfair advantage over our people.”