CAIRO: The trade ministry on Tuesday announced new measures to regulate the retail price of cement in the domestic market.
Minister of Trade and Industry Rachid Mohamed Rachid’s decree stipulates a maximum price on the sale of cement to distributors and places regulations on the price of cement to consumers.
Starting Thursday, cement factories are also required to inform their agents and distributors of a maximum sale price as well as a “ceiling price for consumers, the ministry announced in a statement.
Newspapers and economists say retail cement prices have gone up recently because of demand from Europe and because a strike by truckers has disrupted distribution, Reuters reported.
Earlier this week, cement was selling at LE 800 ($143) a ton in some parts of the country. Less than one year ago, the price was less than LE 400 a ton.
According to the new measures, factories will also have to inform the Internal Trade Unit at the ministry of these prices on the third Thursday of every month. “Sale of cement at a higher price than that announced with the knowledge of the factories is strictly prohibited, the statement read.
MENA quoted Trade and Industry Minister Rachid Mohamed Rachid as saying: The ministry will take all necessary measures to stop unjustified increases in the price of cement and will deal decisively with any attempt … to tamper with prices.
Meanwhile, agents and distributors will be required to disclose their cement stocks as well as their records to the Internal Trade Unit.
A regulatory committee has reportedly been formed – to be headed by Al Sayed Abul Komsan, advisor to the trade minister – to oversee the implementation of the new regulations.
Anyone found to be in violation may have their product confiscated, permits revoked and sales outlet closed. They may also be subject to a fine and can face a jail term of no less than one year and a maximum of five years.
The committee overseeing compliance will comprise a representative from the Internal Trade Unit, cement producers, the head of the Building Materials Unit at the Chambers of Commerce, head of the Chamber of the Building Materials Industries at the Egyptian Federation of Industries, and a representative from the Consumer Protection Agency.
Cement producers agreed to halt exporting voluntarily for three months to fulfill local market demands, which has reportedly increased by 25 percent due to a construction rush spurred by a decrease in steel prices, Al-Ahram reported.
In its daily notes, CI Capital said, “Said actions, if taken coupled with ending the trucks strike, would decrease the irrational retail price increase that was observed recently and would fill the demand gap. -Additional reporting by Reuters.