President J. A. Kufuor has served notice to Ghana Cement Limited (GHACEM) that the government will be compelled to review the liberal system that enables it to dictate the price of cement if the price of the product continues to rise.
"You are operating a restrictive market, making it impossible for others to come in,” he said and warned that there will be a free market for all if nothing is done about the problem.
Cement prices have gone up astronomically since the beginning of the year, from an official figure of about 55, OOO cedis in January to 120, OOO cedis in some parts of the country currently.
At a meeting with a delegation of the board of the company at the Castle on Thursday, President Kufuor did not mince words in expressing outrage at the increases in the price of the product and asked the board to do something about it or forfeit the government's favourable policy towards it.
He said ever since the state sold it majority shares in the 1990s, GHACEM has been creating the impression that it is government that is pushing cement prices up.
"I must tell you that the government will have to disassociate itself from this as it is being forced to look at the prices," he said.
He noted that next to energy, the issue of cement price is the most topical and told the GHACEM delegation that if the company fails to do something about the price the government will use the Security Exchange Commission to avoid unfair treatment.
He noted that the current 59, OOO cedis per bag of cement being quoted by the company is not the reality on the market and asked the company to check its distributors.
President Kufuor noted that under the guise of social service the company started to donate cement to institutions and communities when prices started to rise to create the false impression in the minds of the public that it was socially responsible. "This is obviously false," he pointed out and said "with the present attitude you can't be a reliable partner."
Earlier, the board chairman of GHACEM, Mr. Junon Jean-Narc, said cement price in Ghana is the lowest at the company's level. This, however, does not reflect on the market because of the shortage of the commodity on the market, he explained.
He said the company is in the process of importing a power generating plant to enable it to produce at full capacity.
Mr. Jean-Narc said GHACEM is producing at 75 percent capacity and is trying to complement it by importing cement from Togo.
Although the current official price of cement is 57,225, cedis, prices vary depending on where one is buying it.
For instance, while in Accra, GHACEM cement sells between 75, OOO cedis and 100,000, cedis, in Tema the price ranges between 76,000 and cedis and 80, OOO cedis and in Kumasi the product sells between 75,000 cedis and l00, 000 cedis.
In Bolgatanga, it sells between 90, OOO cedis and 100,000 cedis while in Wa, it sells between cedis 85,000 and l00, OOO.
In Takoradi, it sells at between 75, OOO cedis and 90, OOO cedis.
Culled from Ghanaian Times