Mon | Aug 21, 2017

Letter of the Day | Give us hard info, Carib Cement

Published:Wednesday | April 12, 2017 | 4:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

I am again taken aback by a news report in The Gleaner dated Sunday, April 9, 2017, that there is once again a shortage of cement. This is the second time in the past seven months that Jamaica has faced a shortage in supply from the island's sole cement manufacturer and it has now become quite worrisome.

The frequency of shortages is of particular concern given that Jamaica is in a growth phase, and the prime minister, Andrew Holness, has announced that the National Housing Trust (NHT) has numerous housing solutions scheduled for this year, and we have witnessed a number of groundbreaking exercises taking place in recent times. Also, there are a several small, medium and large hotel projects scheduled to start within the next six to 12 months.

Although we are told by the company that it will be embarking on major maintenance overhaul during this Easter holiday, which should result in increased volumes to the market and restore stability, these questions still arise:

1. Can the Government and people of Jamaica depend on you to deliver adequate cement to meet the demands that are present and that which lie ahead?

2. Should the Government be looking at increasing import quotas to meet these demands?

3. Will investors be told what the approximate financial impact on the company will be for this Easter maintenance overhaul?

4. Is the redundancy exercise that the company embarked on over the past year completed?

All stakeholders deserve better information as it relates to the current production capacity of Caribbean Cement Company (CCC) and the demand gap that is currently in the market. As a minority shareholder, I have noticed that since CEMEX Ltd management has taken over the operations of the company in 2015, quarterly reports from CCC have not included the quantity (tonnage) of cement produced each time, which would give a better idea of what is happening at the plant.

I am calling on the Jamaica Stock Exchange to act on behalf of minority shareholders by demanding that CCC, among other things, provide quarterly investor briefings and timely disclosure of information, so that the people of Jamaica can be aware of what is happening to our natural resources, Portland Cement, though it was given away to Trinidad and Tobago some years ago.

We certainly miss Anthony Haynes, the former general manager of CCC, who would have been talking to the media about what is happening instead of sending out press releases with quotes from the company instead of a named individual.

NIGEL O. COKE

Minority Shareholder in CCC