EU, CEMENCO Hold Strategic Meeting to Address Bottlenecks for Foreign-Direct Investment And Guarantee Affordable, Stable Price Of Cement for All Across Liberia
MONROVIA – The European Union (EU) Delegation to Liberia and the Management of the Liberia Cement Corporation (LCC) have climaxed a one-day strategic meeting aimed at accessing progress and challenges at the major supplier of cement in the country, with a call on the Government of Liberia (GOL) to guarantee the protection of foreign investors in the nation.
The LCC, a subsidiary of the German Company-Heidelberg Cement Group-is the sole producer and distributor of CEMENCO cement in Liberia.
The meeting took place at the LCC’s offices on the Bushrod Island, outside Monrovia on Tuesday, April 13, 2021.
Speaking to reporters shortly after the climax of the meeting, the Managing Director of the LCC, Mr. William Gaignard, expressed disappointment over the unstable price of cement in the leeward parts of the country.
He noted that it is unfortunate for a bag of cement to be sold for more than US$18 in northern and western Liberian in particular-a price that is far above the cost of the commodity in Montserrado County.
He attributed the situation to bad road conditions and multiple taxes in transporting the product via the seaports.
Mr. Gaignard pointed out that as part of its strategic plan within the next five years, the LCC will help ensure that citizens and others have equal access to the commodity at an affordable and stable price.
“Our mission is to make sure that in the next five years of our strategic business plan, we want to make sure that all individual counties get affordable cement. This is my commitment. Why you have one price in Montserrado and why you have different price in Lofa? I cannot accept; I cannot accept that the price of cement is US$18 per bag-It’s not acceptable anymore”.
Mr. Gaignard added that better road connectivity remains paramount to the actualization of this plan and a commitment made by the LCC to President George Manneh Weah.
He noted that the company remains committed and willing to ensure that distributors are available across the entire country to guarantee the sale of cement at an affordable and stable price for all regardless of geographic location.
He further stressed the need for the protection of foreign investors in Liberia, including the LCC, which are paying legitimate taxes to the Liberian government and investing in the country over others who are only engaged into importation.
Mr. Gaignard added that if counties across Liberia are to be developed, a win-win situation must be implored for the benefit of foreign tax payers and the government.
He, however, commended the EU Delegation for their numerous contributions towards the infrastructural and economic growth and development of Liberia and the visit to the LCC on a fact-finding mission.
For his part, the Head of the European Union (EU) Delegation to Liberia, Ambassador Laurent Delahousse, described the private sector as “the heart of development” for the implementation of the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD) of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) led-government of President George Manneh Weah.
According to him, the Delegation’s visit to the LCC’s facilities was intended to show that the private sector is one of the stakeholders of development with the communities, government, civil society organizations, donors and international partners, among others.
He pointed out that the gathering was also intended to show the EU’s and its Delegation’s support to the LCC, which plays a significant role towards the development of Liberia and its people.
Ambassador Delahousse further recounted the invaluable role the company continues to play to help alleviate poverty and the high rate of unemployment in Liberia.
“CEMENCO is a big employer. I understand that about 4000 families live out of the production and distribution of cement. CEMENCO creates jobs; it’s an international investor that has decided not only to supply cement to Liberia, but to produce the cement in Liberia rather than just importing”.
“When you import, you create very few jobs; when you produced locally, you create many, many jobs. And this is what international partnership from private companies is about”.
He emphasized that these international companies presently creating jobs and giving revenue to government through the payment of legitimate taxes remain “essential components of the development policy of the government of Liberia”, and as such, they should be “protected and respected” by authorities and the communities in which they operate.
Ambassador Delahousse further stressed that efforts must be applied to discourage disputes or minimize difficulties between these foreign companies, the government and the communities.