Nigerian Government threaten to open borders for mass importation of cement if manufacturers do not adjust prices

Tuesday, February 20, 2024 -The Nigerian government on Tuesday laid out the possibility of opening the borders to enable cement importation if Nigeria’s cement manufacturers refuse to reduce the price of the commodity in the country.

Cement Manufacturers had spelt out the conditions that the Nigerian government must meet before the retail price of a 50kg bag of cement could go down to between N7000 and N8000. 

The warning was given to David Umahi, the Minister of Works, after a meeting with leading manufacturers on Monday in Abuja.

However, the Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Arc Ahmed Dangiwa, while speaking on Tuesday in Abuja at an emergency meeting held with cement and building materials manufacturers, noted that the key input materials for cement production such as limestone, clay, silica sand, and gypsum sourced within the borders, should not be dollar-rated.

The Minister explained that it was aware of the macroeconomic challenges facing the country some of the key components of producing building materials, especially cement, are locally sourced, and considers the recurring disproportionate increase in the price of cement as unacceptable and unreasonable.

He said the price of gas that manufacturers used as an excuse should not be because gas is a raw material found within the country and the excuse of an increase in mining equipment should not come up because equipment bought by the manufacturers had been used for decades and not just purchased every day.

Dangiwa said the border was closed to the importation of cement to help local manufacturers, saying if the government decided to open it back for mass importation, prices of cement would crash and local manufacturers would be gravely affected.

He called on the manufacturers to be more patriotic adding that "The challenges you speak of, many countries are facing the same challenges and some even worse than that but as patriotic citizens, we have to rally around whenever there is a crisis to change the situation.

“The gas price you spoke of, we know that we produce gas in the country the only thing you can say is that maybe it is not enough. Even if you say about 50 percent of your production cost is spent on gas prices, we still produce gas in Nigeria it’s just that some of the manufacturers take advantage of the situation. As for the mining equipment that you mentioned, you buy equipment and it takes years and you are still using it.

“The time you bought it maybe it was at a lower price but because now the dollar is high you are using it as an excuse. Honestly, we have to sit down and look at this critically. The demand and supply should be good for you because the government stopped the importation of cement, they stopped the importation in order to empower you to produce more."

“Otherwise if the government opens the border for mass importation of cement, the price would crash but you would have no business to do and at the same time the employment generation would go down. So these are the kinds of things you have to look at, the efforts of government in ensuring things go well,” the Minister added. 

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