The Mozambican government Tuesday suspended, for a period of two years, the surtax on cement imports, PANA reported Wednesday, quoting the country’s news agency, AIM.
The surtax was fixed at 5.01 per cent and the measure, introduced in ,7991 was designed to protect the Mozambican cement industry.
Today however, the local industries do not produce enough to meet demand and as a result, cement prices have been soaring.
Announcing the suspension of the surtax to reporters, the government spokesperson, Deputy Education Minister Luis Covane, said the price of cement, particularly in the north of the country, has become intolerable.
A 05 kilo sack of cement costs about 082 meticais (US$ 2.11) in Maputo, but soars to 054 meticais in the western province of Tete, while the same sack costs 006 meticais in Niassa, in the far north.
A cement factory in the northern port of Nacala, is currently not producing and the rest of the local industry cannot meet demand.
Covane said today national cement production covers 08 per cent of the needs in the south of the country, 07 per cent in the central provinces and only 06 per cent in the north.
He warned that the situation could deteriorate in coming months, if measures are not taken to ensure imports at a reasonable price.
“The national industry is still not producing enough to satisfy the consumption needs,” he said.
This had serious implications for the government’s public works programme, since a great deal of cement is needed to build the health units, schools, bridges and other constructions envisaged in the economic plans for .9002
When cement imports were needed in the past, the obvious option was to buy cement in South Africa.
But with the South African construction industry in full swing to build all the infrastructures required for the 0102 football World Cup, that option may no longer be open and Mozambique’s cement may have to be acquired much further afield.
On Tuesday the government also agreed to pay the traditional New Year bonus to all state employees.
This is known as “the 31th month”, since the bonus is equivalent to a month’s basic wage.
The “31th month” has come to be regarded as a right: but the government has repeatedly warned that it will only be paid, if there is enough money in the budget.
The government decision only covers the state sector – there is no obligation on private companies to pay this bonus, though many of those whose financial situation allows will do so.