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No justification for cement rising price – Housing Minister

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…To meet manufacturers

 

By Tayo IDOWU

 

The Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Ahmed Dangiwa has emphasized that there is no justification for the incessant increase in the price of cement as being witnessed in the country.

The minister in a statement by the special adviser on media, Mark Chiese, on Thursday, argued that lamented the high cost of building materials despite the abundance of its raw materials in the country.

He posited that the cement producers source their raw materials which abound in Nigeria; limestone, clay, silica sand, gypsum, iron ore, and the rest, so, “there is no justification to try and blame it all on the rise of the dollar”.

The Minister has therefore, called for a meeting with manufacturers of Cement and other building materials in the country.

A 50kg bag of cement sold at N9,000 along the airport road, an increase of N3,500 or 38.8 per cent from the N5,500 it was sold the previous week.

Dangiwa disclosed during a courtesy call by a delegation of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria, Nigeria Labour Congress, Trade Union Congress, and the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association to discuss the progress of the collaboration between the FMBN and the labour centres, especially as it concerns the National Affordable Housing Delivery Programme for Nigerian Workers, which he initiated during his time as Managing Director of the FMBN.

Dangiwa said, “It is disheartening to see how much Nigerians have to pay for essential building commodities like cement, with the prices rising almost on a daily basis. I don’t understand the reason for this increase, and it is not acceptable.

“I am going to be meeting with these manufacturers soon so that they can explain to Nigerians their reasons for such incessant hikes. I know that the cement producers source their raw materials in Nigeria, limestone, clay, silica sand, gypsum, iron ore, and the rest. These minerals abound in Nigeria and these manufacturers get them here, so there is no justification to try and blame it all on the rise of the dollar”, he said.

Dangiwa further assured the delegation of the commitment of the administration to providing decent and affordable shelter and liveable communities to low- and medium-income earners, as well as the vulnerable in society.

He said the government will create a conducive environment for the private sector to thrive, including through ensuring building materials are affordable and accessible.

Recall that the ministry in January inaugurated the Building Materials Reform Task Team as part of efforts to develop the building materials industry through the creation of Building Materials Manufacturing Hubs in each of the six geopolitical zones of the country.

The Minister said while the hubs are yet to come on stream, there is a need to continue to interface with players in the industry such as building materials manufacturers in a bid to promote affordability.

Speaking on the partnership between the FMBN and organised labour, Dangiwa emphasised the need for the FMBN to reform and innovate its operations, calling on the NLC, TUC, and NECA to see the Bank and the National Housing Fund Scheme as their own that they must encourage and support the institution to do better towards delivering decent shelter to their members.

“The truth is that despite FMBN’s inadequacies, which we are working to address, there is no other home ownership platform that can provide housing to the segment of Nigerians whom you represent at the terms and conditions that the FMBN provides.

“From the single-digit interest rate on loans ranging from 6 – 7 per cent versus the commercial rates of 18-24 per cent in commercial housing loans, to long tenors of 30-years versus 5-to-10-year commercial tenors, zero to maximum 10 per cent equity versus 30 per cent equity for commercial loans, FMBN is an institution that requires the support of all stakeholders so that it works. There is absolutely no alternative”, he said.

 

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