‘Shock’ in T&T over cement hike

(Trinidad Express) Contractors are paying more for cement now after local producer Trinidad Cement Ltd (TCL) increased prices again.

It is a move by the Claxton Bay cement company that contractors say came as a shock to a construction industry that is already reeling from two price hikes in the past four months.

In a May 2 circular to contractors, TCL announced price increases between 19 per cent and almost 21 per cent on all types of cement, executive chairman of the Coosal Group of Companies Sieunarine Coosal told the Express yesterday.

In a telephone interview yesterday, Coosal — one of the biggest purchasers of cement in the country-said the increase will affect the entire construction industry.

“My take is a simple one: Cement is a staple, like bread or rice and people need to know if the price is going to be increased. TCL should have put out ads explaining why the price was increased,” he said.

On January 1, TCL upped prices on its Premium Plus and Portland brands by between eight and 12 per cent.

The company said it was the first time it had adjusted prices in four years.

In March, as the company was affected by strike action at its Claxton Bay and Mayo facilities, the price of bulk cement was increased by 40 per cent, Coosal said.

The latest price adjustments mean that contractors who purchase cement in bulk quantities are paying as much as $220 more for a tonne of product, almost 20 per cent more than at the beginning of the year.

“We are saying to TCL that they should tell the population why they have increased prices. A one-fifth increase is a major increase in the price of product,” he said. “This affects the entire industry as cement is an integral part of construction. It affects contractors and small householders as well, because everyone uses cement.”

Contractors Association president Mervyn Chin told the Express yesterday that the price increase came as a “shocker”.

He said he understood that this third price increase came after TCL exhausted its supply of clinker, a component of cement production.

TCL said yesterday it restarted clinker production yesterday and the company was expecting prices to come down.

In the meantime, Chin said contractors were now saddled with a further increase at a time when demand was high and buyers were paying more for product.

Checks at several hardware stores yesterday indicated that customers were paying between $65 and $70 per bag of cement.


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