Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism has put a cap on the price of cement to help check the escalating costs of the product amid scarcity concerns.
Some unscrupulous traders are taking advantage of the scarcity, which has been attributed to stalled production due to power outages, by raising the price from about K6 500 to K10 000 per 50 kilogramme (kg) bag.
The ministry has since warned that it will deploy punitive measures within the laws of the country on traders found selling the product at over K7 000 per 50kg bag.
Addressing the press on Friday in Lilongwe, Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism Henry Mussa admitted that the intermittent power supply in the country has led to low production levels in the manufacturing sector, causing the scarcity of cement.
The minister, who said his ministry had already summoned local cement producers Lafarge and Shayona on the matter, said the ministry has since issued the producers and other merchants with import permits to ensure consistent supply of the product on the market.
He said: “We are aware of the critical shortage of cement and it’s clear it has affected construction projects that are in progress. But we feel [the exorbitant pricing] is unacceptable.
“My ministry is monitoring the situation and everyone found selling the product at higher prices than the recommended one will face punitive action in accordance with the laws of this country, and we are serious about this.”
Among other existing legal frameworks, Section 43 of the Competition and Fair Trading Act that prohibits traders or suppliers from engaging in “unconscionable conduct in carrying out trade in goods and services. n