TCL Guyana hikes cement to ‘compete effectively’

– discount to low-income homeowners remains in effect

Beneficiaries of the government’s low-income housing programme will save up to $76,000 on eight slings of cement purchased from TCL Guyana Inc for home-building purposes.

The company says it remains committed to its 20 per cent discount on cement prices to first-time homeowners under the government’s low-income housing initiative despite its announced 9.3 per cent price hike. The increase, which pushes the cost of cement on the open market from $1,241 to $1,367 and takes effect today, has been described in a company release as “marginal”.

In its release TCL says that recent contraction in global demand for cement resulted from economic pressures. Accordingly, the company says, it has had to increase prices on the Guyanese market in order to compete effectively.

TCL is known to have been piqued by the importation of cement into Guyana, both legally and illegally, despite the presence of its operations here. In April 2008 TCL filed a lawsuit against Guyana in the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) seeking millions of dollars in damage on the grounds that the government here was not doing enough to protect the market by imposing the Common External Tariff (CET) on extra-regional cement imports.

Some measure of fence-mending has taken place since then, however, and the current boom in local housing industry enhanced TCL Guyana’s profitability.

TCL said it had continued to support the local construction industry although “inflationary realities over the years” in relation to the production of cement had been “negatively impacting on the company’s financial performance.” The price increase, the release said, was to “safeguard the organisation’s long-term viability”. The Port of Spain-based Trinidad Cement Ltd (TCL), the parent company of TCL Guyana, continues to face a serious financial crisis. Reports from Trinidad and Tobago indicate that contractors there continue to support the local company, though, according to a recent media report, both contractors and private persons were continuing to import cement. In January this year, the embattled regional cement producer set up a Credit Committee to handle the restructuring of its millions of dollars in debt, declaring a moratorium of debt service payments.

At the same time the company announced that it was seeking new markets in areas of South America.

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