By Kebba Secka
The cabinet decision of the Barrow administration to enforce a 5% excise duty on all cement imported from Senegal, and by giving chance to European imported cement, has raised eyebrows of stakeholders in the cement industry. They demanded to be interviewed in order to let the public know the impact of such a policy on them as dealers. This prompted this reporter to talk to some of them and hear their complaints.
In an interview with Lamin Janneh, a contractor in Latriya village, the lack of cement has negatively impacted on him in terms of financial loss, that he is not able to hand over his building contract on time.
”We are at the peak season of the construction industry and cement is crucial for the sector,” he said. According to him, the decision to promote and protect local importers is good provided that they can satisfy the demand. ”In this case, they are not able to meet the demand and I think Government needs to respect the liberalization of the market and promote competition among importers,” Janneh told this reporter. The contractor further disclosed the consequences of not handing over a contract on time describing it as a big financial loss and breach of trust; that he hired machines such as gravel mixer for some days without any abundant supply of cement. “I will have to pay the number of days these machines spend with me,” he said.
According to him, the seventy bags of cement he got from Sukuta, cost him D325 per bag while the fifty bags he bought at Tujereng cost D320 per bag. “The demand is higher than the supply,” he explained.
Mustapha Conteh another contractor in Sinchu Alagie, expressed similarly remarks; that the suppliers in the country, cannot meet the demand; that Government should allow the free flow of cement from the neighbouring sub-region. “You see, it is only lack of cement that is stopping us from work,” he said.
Lamin Daffeh, a mason, said all his labourers have gone to look for other sources of income because they are family men. Asked which type of cement he uses to build, Daffeh said he use Gacem and each bag was bought for D290. He appealed to Government to change their decision on the 5% excise duty charged on all cement imported from Senegal.
Modou Ceesay, a driver who sells sand mined from Sanyang village, lamented on the challenges he faced as a result of the shortage of cement. “When cement is available and affordable, the demand for sand and gravel increases. But if one of them is sort, the others will certainly be affected,” he said. Ceesay business was better than now and believes that the new policy is responsible. He appealed similarly with others who spoke to this medium, for Government to look back their decision on the cement excise duty.