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‘Bureau of Standards monitoring foreign cement’
With the entry of foreign cement on the market, Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon said the T&T Bureau of Standards is continuing to monitor all products to ensure they meet quality standards.
She was speaking at a tour of the TCL facility at Claxton Bay yesterday. Gopee-Scoon said while the influx of foreign cement has resulted in a drop in prices, the T&T Bureau of Standards will ensure compliance of T&T’s laws.
She also said that government could not stop the entry of foreign goods in T&T, adding that global competitiveness was important.
Meanwhile, TCL’s managing director Jose Luis Seijo said while imported cement has impacted on TCL’s operations, the company is continuing to expand. He said TCL has already made bids to build concrete roads in T&T.
“We have the technology and the experience to do this so we are very excited about this project. We already did a pilot project for concrete roads in Guyana,” Seijo said. Asked whether he felt the entry of foreign cement was unfair to TCL, Seijo said, “That is not for me to decide. I still need to do my business and sell and export as much as I can. A lot of people depend on me. I am playing by the rules. I am paying all my taxes and getting all my permits and I hope that everyone will do the same and play by the rules,” Seijo added.
He said TCL is expanding into the Dutch Caribbean and was well poised for expansion in Guyana and Suriname. He also said an agreement was signed recently to supply the Cayman Islands, Aruba and Curacao. While the plant was producing at a 2.6 million tonne capacity, Seijo said his goal was to increase capacity to three million tonnes.
Once dredging is completed at the TCL port, Seijo said exports will be increased from 3,500 tonnes to 7,000 tonnes. He also said that TCL will expand its Readymix operations.
General manager of TCL Jinda Maharaj said cement sales are 20 per cent lower compared to 2015 mainly because of contractions in the economy and increase in imports. He noted that TCL earns US$20 million in foreign exchange on a net basis, compared to import distributors that use up foreign exchange.
Maharaj said TCL pays $108 million annually to state enterprises including WASA and T&TEC.