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CEMENT FIRMS DEFY GOVT ORDER

Prices still exorbitant despite directive to reduce

By NOEL IYOMBWA

CEMENT prices have remained high despite the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) ordering that firms revert to pre-cartel prices by May 7 this year.

And the CCPC says it has embarked on a countrywide survey to check and confirm on whether cement companies have reverted to the prescribed prices.

CCPC ordered that the cement prices be slashed from the current average prices of K140 per 50kg bag of cement to between US$4.5 to US$5 which translates to K110 per at the current exchange rate of K22 per 1 US dollar.

Three cement producer companies that were investigated for restrictive business were found wanting and CCPC fined the firms.

The companies are Lafarge Zambia Plc and Mpande Limestone Limited which were found wanting for price fixing, while Dangote was forgiven after complying during the probe.

The two cement manufacturing entities were ordered to each pay 20 percent of their 2019 and 2020 turnovers.

Despite CCPC announcing the directive takes effect on May 7, this year which is 30 days after the parties receive the Board’s decision as required, the prices are still high.

A check by the Daily Nation found that a 50-kg  bag of cement was still fetching above K130.

The retailers interviewed said the price had remained unchanged because the wholesale price was still high.

CCPC said the three cement producers, Lafarge Zambia Plc, Dangote Cement Zambia Limited and Mpande Limestone Limited confirmed receiving the Board’s decision on April, 8 2021.

“All three cement producers, Lafarge Zambia Plc, Dangote Cement Zambia Limited and Mpande Limestone Limited that were investigated for restrictive business practices by the Commission have confirmed receiving the Board’s decision on April 8, 2021,” the CCPC said.

When contacted for a comment, CCPC Senior Public Relations Officer Namukolo Kasumpa said they have embarked on a countrywide survey to check and confirm on whether cement companies have reverted to the pre cartel factory prices.

Ms. Kasumpa said that once the information is collected from all the provincial headquarters they will then advise on its next course of action.

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