Sep 18, 2016 News
A number of importers have written Government complaining about cement which was brought in under special conditions but is being sold on the local market.
The cement reportedly came into the country as aid to the Guyanese people from the Japanese government under its ‘Non-Project Grant Aid’ and is unfairly competing.
Two companies, TCL Guyana Inc. and KSM Investments Inc., wrote to Minister of Business, Dominic Gaskin, late last month, seeking clarifications.
Officials say that around 8,000 metric tons of the cement have been consigned to National Hardware (Guyana) Limited and are currently being sold by National Hardware and other hardware companies.
More shipments may be on the way. Recent advertisements in the media have been promoting the sale of the cement which has its origin in Turkey.
The CIMCO brand cement being sold has labels on the front which clearly says “From the People of Japan”.
According to Government officials, the importers are complaining that such labelling is applicable only when a commodity is provided as aid to a country. And such aid should be distributed freely and not sold.
Among the information contained in the labelling at the back of the bag is the following: “FUNDED BY THE GOVERNMENT OF JAPAN UNDER NON-PROJECT GRANT AID FY 2013.”
TCL Guyana Ltd imports from Trinidad while KSM Investments Inc is the exclusive importer of Domicem brand cements from the Dominican Republic.
The importers are reportedly contending that the Japanese government is likely to have paid all the shipping costs for the cement while the Government of Guyana would have waived all duties and taxes payable on the shipments since these shipments would have arrived as aid.
However, to be “selling a commodity received free under an aid arrangement is scandalous”, according to KSM Investments Inc Chairman/Chief Executive, Mahadeo Panchu.
Contacted yesterday, Panchu admitted that indeed his company has launched a complaint.
He said that his company and another importer of cement have sent a joint letter to the Minister of Business, highlighting their concerns and seeking “certain clarifications”.
Panchu said that he is of the understanding that the letter is receiving the attention of the Government. However, the businessman refused to delve into details.
However, he did say that there has been an abundant supply of cement and it makes no sense bringing cement as part of an aid package.
“Something is not right here. This arrangement stinks to the high heavens,” he concluded.
Both cement importers told Minister Gaskin in their letter that their companies have invested significantly in Guyana and that all they are asking is for a level playing field.
The complaint letter was copied to Finance Minister, Winston Jordan; Foreign Affairs Minister, Carl Greenidge; CARICOM Secretary General, Irwin LaRocque; Rajdai Jaggernauth, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Business and the Japan Internaional Cooperation Agency.
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