Customers to bear cement price increase

FILE PHOTO: Bags of TCL Premium Plus cement. -
FILE PHOTO: Bags of TCL Premium Plus cement. -

With the February 19 increase in cement prices, customers can expect their wallets to take a hit as hardware owners say they cannot absorb the increase and will have to pass it on.

Newsday spoke to the owners of several hardwares on Tuesday.

They all said the same thing: cement is not a product that fetches a large profit.

"The customer will have to bear the brunt of that. The profit of cement is very small anyway, and there's a lot of cost in selling that, transportation wise, handling. When you add it up, you're possibly just breaking even or making small profits," Endeavour Hardware Supplies Limited owner Richard Ramsubhag said.

The manager of a prominent hardware in North Western Trinidad, who wished to keep his name and establishment anonymous, said he only makes $1 profit per bag.

"What exactly do you think I should absorb to pass on to the consumer?" he asked.

Compounding the issue, he said, cement is perishable, limiting the quantity that can be stored.

This is also why he believes he is yet to see a rush of people purchasing it before the price increases by roughly seven per cent (around $3).

Ramsubhag said he also has not seen a rush but believes this may be because people are not aware of the price change.

"I think a lot of people are still unaware that the prices going to increase. Once they do find out, you will see a slight rush, especially people who have projects ongoing to benefit at the cheaper price. After that, everything normalises. Trinidad has a very short memory."

Seepersad Jayo, director of Samlal Seepersad Hardware Limited in Marabella, also noticed an absence of crowds and believes cement sales may pick up once Carnival is over. He said the additional cost would be passed on to the customer but he would only adjust prices when his current stock is depleted.

"If it increases on the 19th, if we have old cement, it will be sold at the old price, and if we buy cement the next day, we will have to increase the price," he said.

The owners of three other hardwares who spoke anonymously expressed disappointment in the price hike, blaming it on the monopoly that Trinidad Cement Limited (TCL) is operating under.

A statement from TCL blamed the increase on continuous inflation affecting its business and other sectors.

"This decision is unavoidable in order to cope with the escalating costs of natural gas, raw materials, spare parts, and other essential inputs, which have risen significantly in the past year. We have continued to invest in enhancing our efficiencies, upgrading our technology, and optimising our processes to minimise the environmental impact of our operations. However, these actions are insufficient to mitigate the negative effect of inflation on our business," it said.


"Customers to bear cement price increase"

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