Disturbed by the rising prices of cement in the country, the Senate has urged the federal government to provide more industrial incentives and protection for cement manufacturers such as offering concessionary loans and larger tax incentives for new entrants.
This, the upper legislative chamber noted would boost the production of cement, reduction of price and encourage more valuable producers in the country.
The resolution was sequel to the adoption of a motion, “Need for liberalization of cement policy in Nigeria” by Senator Oyelola Ashiru (APC Kwara South) and co-sponsored by five other lawmakers during the plenary.
Leading debate on the motion, Ashiru, noted that cement is one of the few building materials in which Nigeria is self-sufficient, adding that as at 2018, the installed capacity of cement producers was about 47.8MMT which is far above the estimated (2018) consumption of about 20.7MMT. “Yet, the prices of cement in Nigeria (N380) is about 240% higher than global average.”
The lawmaker pointed out that cement takes a large share of domestic expenditure, and the price of such commodity significantly impacts the government’s ability to provide much-needed infrastructural works required for the growth of our economy.
He said: “The recent increase in price of Cement (from N2,600 – N3,800) slowed down the amount of construction work being embarked upon thus negatively affecting labour engagement and almost collapsed the procurement plan of the governments in 2020 Appropriation Act;
“The Nigerian cement market is oligopolistic in nature with three players (Dangote Cement (60.6%); Lafarge Africa Plc (21.8%) and BUA Group (17.6%) largely dominating the scene therefore making it susceptible to price fixing practices.
“If the status quo persists, the negative consequences of high prices on the economy will outweigh the benefits of producing cement locally.
“The significant rise in cement prices in the country and the low purchasing power of Nigerians may result in substandard building constructions and non-completion of planned infrastructural works.
“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 3% per annum; a housing deficit of 30 million units and less engagement of over 10.5 million workforce of the building and construction industry.
“Unfavourable government policies such as imposition of multiple taxes, erratic power supply, government ban on importation in violation of ECOWAS Trade liberalization Scheme (ETLS) and subsequent lifting of importation in favour of few producers have negative implications on the growth of our infrastructures.”
In his contribution, Senator Ibrahim Gobiri (APC Sokoto South), said that liberalizing the policy will collapse the industry.
He said that they must protect their enterprise and industries, adding, “If you want to establish an industry go ahead and establish it.”
On his part, Senator Sadiq Umar (APC Kwara North), noted that with the increase in unemployment cement industry is a critical commodity to provide jobs, stressing, “Senate must pay attention to the prayers.”
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