By BUUMBA CHIMBULU and PETER SICHALI
LAFARGE Cement Zambia and Mpande Limestone Limited have been fined by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) over price fixing and division of markets but Lafarge has refuted any illegal dealing.
CCPC Senior Public Relations Officer, Namukolo Kasumpa said the cement firms were expected to pay 10 percent of their annual turnovers for the year 2019 and another 10 percent of their 2020 annual turnovers.
Ms Kasumpa said investigations established that company representatives from Mpande Limestone Limited, Dangote Cement Zambia Limited and Lafarge Zambia Plc held discussions which resulted in a pricing philosophy to stop cement price reductions.
She said the investigations also established that the cement companies had agreed on a flat rebate of K3 sometime in December 2019.
Ms Kasumpa however said Dangote Cement Zambia Limited was granted full leniency for having cooperated with the CCPC during investigations.
She said CCPC ordered Lafarge Zambia Plc, Dangote Cement Zambia Limited and Mpande Limestone Limited to revert to the pre-cartel prices ranging between US$4.50 and US$ 5 for one year.
This is from the date of receipt of the board decision pursuant to Section 59 (3) (b) of the Act.
Ms Kasumpa explained that Lafarge Zambia Plc, Dangote Cement Zambia Limited, Mpande Limestone Limited should submit monthly average ex-works prices and any price adjustments be indexed to the exchange rate and be submitted to the Commission for review.
But Lafarge Zambia said it was surprised to learn that the Commission had concluded that it contravened the Competition and Consumer Protection Act despite denying any wrongdoing.
The company said in a statement that since the initiation of the Commission’s investigation in January 2020, it consistently denied the allegations of its engagement in restrictive
business practices in the cement sector.
“While Lafarge Zambia will continue to cooperate with the Commission, it intends to exercise its rights to appeal the decision.
Meanwhile, Ms Kasumpa said the board of Commissioners dropped charges against Zambezi Portland Cement Limited after it was established that it was not part of the anti-competitive trade.