To bridge the gap between national demand and what local manufacturers of cement can supply, the Cement Manufacturers Association of Nigeria has advocated the continued importation of cement into the country.
A statement issued by the association at the weekend ,signed by executive secretary, Mr James Salako said the CMAN had consistently expressed its support for the import needed to bridge the gap between national demand and what the local manufacturers can supply to the market at any point in time. This, he said, had remained its position.
He said the Minister of Finance invited representatives of both manufacturers and importers recently to deliberate on how to revitalise the local cement manufacturing industry, and the association made its position clear on the need for backward integration.
“Throughout that meeting, at no time was there any request by any cement manufacturer for a ban on importation of cement. Indeed, Nigeria‘s two largest importers of cement also happen to be local manufacturers of cement, and so cement manufacturers couldn‘t have been asking for a ban on cement imports, considering their own investments in cement terminals.
The major position taken by the manufacturers, according to him, “was their demand that the Federal Government go back to strict implementation of its 2002 backward integration policy that required that cement import licences be allocated only to importers who show proof of building factories for local cement manufacturing in Nigeria.
“The spirit of this policy is to rapidly expand Nigeria‘s cement production capacities and thereby accelerate the realization of self-sufficiency in this critical product in which the nation has comparative advantage.”
He added, “This is a position we believe should receive the support of all well meaning patriotic Nigerians. Cement manufacturers have never opposed importation to fill the current shortfall in supply. We however believe that importation should be done along with consistent strict implementation of the backward integration policy that will ultimately bring us out of our present perpetual dependence on imports.