Trinidad Cement Limited’s announcement that it intends to increase its cement prices come February 19th, has been described as sudden and surprising by the president of the Trinidad and Tobago Contractors Association (TTCA) Glenn Mahabirsingh.
He believes that this is not the right time for an increase, and pointed out that maybe competition in the market may be the key to address the issue.
According to TCL, “due to the continuous inflation that affects our industry and other economic sectors”, it became necessary for them to adjust the price of cement by $3 per sack from February 19.
“This decision is unavoidable in order to cope with the escalating costs of natural gas, raw materials, spare parts, and other essential inputs, which have risen significantly in the past year. We have continued to invest in enhancing our efficiencies, upgrading our technology, and optimising our processes to minimise the environmental impact of our operations,” TCL stated.
The company said despite this price adjustment, Trinidad and Tobago still retains the most competitive price of cement in the Caricom region.
This is the fourth increase in the cement price in the last 26 months.
Mahabirsingh, in an Express interview, said the latest price increase equates to an average increase of around 7% on cement products.
“We at the TTCA view this increase as sudden and surprising and we are of the view that this is not the correct time for a price increase given the importance of cement to the construction sector,” he said.
“This increase in price would put further inflationary pressures on the construction sector given that cement is an essential material that is used for all concrete-related items in construction,” Mahabirsingh said.
Mahabirsingh said that cement is too essential to the construction industry to have these rapid price increases.
However, he says the solution to the problem is competition.
“Competition is important to ensure that you get efficiency and you maintain prices, so maybe competition is required in the cement market,” he said.
“Competition drives efficiency and innovation,” Mahabirsingh said.
Mahabirsingh said given that construction is meant to stimulate the economy, he hopes the necessary authorities would consider possible strategies to deal with the issue.
According to Mahabirsingh, the average 600-square-foot home uses around 200 sacks of cement, and the new price would increase that cost by around $800.