Senate move to slash cement prices

The National Assembly on Tuesday moved to reduce the high costs of cement yesterday, with the Senate urging the Federal Government to introduce liberal policies to stimulate more investment in the manufacturing of the product.

The upper chamber said such policies should include provision of industrial and larger tax incentives to encourage local investments in cement production in Nigeria.

The resolution was reached after the consideration of a motion titled: “Need for liberalisation of cement policy in Nigeria”, sponsored by Senator Ashiru Oyelola Yisa and five others.

The co-sponsors of the motion are: Senators Muhammad Enagi Bima (Niger South); Adelere Adeyemi Oriolowo (Osun West); Samuel Egwu (Ebonyi North); Kabiru Gaya (Kano South) and Michael Nnachi (Ebonyi South).

In his lead debate, Senator Yisa identified cement as one of the few building materials in which Nigeria enjoys self-sufficiency.

Yisa said: “As at 2018, the installed capacity of cement producers was about 47.8 million metric tonnes (MMT) which is far above the estimated (2018) consumption of about 20.7MMT.

“Yet, the prices of cement in Nigeria- (N380) – is about 240 per cent higher than the global average.

“I am convinced that if the status quo persists, the negative consequences of high prices on the economy will outweigh the benefits of producing cement locally.

“It’s strongly believed that there is an urgent need to encourage more local production of cement to satisfy the demands of Nigeria with a steady growth rate of approximately three per cent per annum; a housing deficit of 30 million units and less engagement of over 10.5 million workforce of the building and construction industry.

“It’s further strongly believed that unfavourable government policies such as imposition of multiple taxes, erratic power supply, government ban on importation in violation of ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS) and subsequent lifting of importation in favour of few producers have negative implications on the growth of our infrastructures.”

In its resolution, the Senate called on the Federal Government to provide more industrial incentives and industrial protections, such as concessionary loans and huge tax incentives for new entrants in order to boost production of cements, reduce price and encourage more valuable producers in Nigeria.

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