Trade Minister, Cement Manufacturers Should Allow Cool Heads To Prevail

Trades and Industry Minister, Kobina Tahir (KT) Hammond, says he will disregard the petition from the Chamber of Cement Manufacturers to delay the implementation of a Legislative Instrument (LI) aimed at regulating cement prices. KT Hammond insists that the law is essential to prevent a cartel of manufacturers from exploiting the public. The Chamber of Cement Manufacturers on the other hand has expressed grave concern over the proposed LI, seeking to regulate cement prices.

Under the proposed LI, cement manufacturers could face up to three years in jail for violations. Despite opposition from the Minority in Parliament and various interest groups, the Minister remains resolute. Speaking to JoyNews’ PM Express, the minister explained that he has made multiple attempts to engage the manufacturers in good faith, but to no avail, hence the decision to enforce the law to ensure fair pricing.

The Chamber of Cement Manufacturers have, however, decried what seem to them like a unilateral attempt by the Minister to introduce this proposal to Parliament, without engaging with them. To them it is not only unfair but also detrimental to the spirit of partnership and mutual respect that should guide the collective efforts to stabilize and grow the industry.

In his explanation, the Trades and Industry Minister stressed that although the manufacturers were not consulted during the drafting of the L.I., he had consistently had conversations with them on the need to be transparent about pricing. “I didn’t have to consult them in drafting the L.I., I warned them consistently that they couldn’t do what they’re doing [raising prices]. I consulted with them several times in my office and I told them what I wanted. I wanted them to be transparent, for there to be a reduction… it gets to a point when something has to be done, and what has to be done for me within the law is to go to Parliament,” the Trade Minister said.

According to him, he is hopeful that the bill to regulate cement prices will be passed soon. He aims to lay the legislative instrument in Parliament and secure its passage before the current session expires.

The Chronicle sees this bold move by the Trades and Industry Minister as a step in the right direction to ensure regulatory oversight through fair market practices and intended to prevent price manipulation and protect consumers.

Cement is a cornerstone of the country’s infrastructure development. Its price directly affects construction costs, influencing everything from housing affordability to public infrastructure projects. Over the years, there have been persistent allegations of price manipulation within the cement industry, suggesting that a powerful cartel may be exploiting consumers.

However, critics of the LI argue that the cement manufacturers were not adequately consulted during its drafting, which the Minister has denied and highlighted his efforts to engage with industry stakeholders.

The stakes in this regulatory battle are high. Unregulated cement price increases hinder development, inflate housing costs and ultimately burden consumers.

Moreover, the Minister’s insistence that this move is for the “good people of Ghana” highlights a broader ethical consideration. In a market where a few powerful entities can dictate prices, the role of government regulation becomes indispensable in protecting consumer rights and promoting equitable economic practices.

Despite the clear need for regulation, the Minister’s proposal has met with resistance. The Minority in Parliament and various interest groups argue that the LI could stifle competition and innovation within the industry. This is where The Chronicle would like to advice the Trades and Industry Minister and the Chamber of Cement Manufacturers to let cool heads prevail. We call on the feuding parties to move from their entrenched positions and dialogue so as to reach an amicable settlement.

The Minister’s resolve to push through this legislation is commendable but he must try and carry along all stakeholders by considering the broader implications of unchecked market power and the importance of regulatory frameworks in fostering a fair and just economy.


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