PRIME Minister Kassim Majaliwa on Monday began his second term in office by ordering Regional Commissioners to probe the reported nationwide shortage of cement which has led to increased prices.
He gave the four-day ultimatum after he was sworn-in by President John Magufuli at the Chamwino State House at a ceremony attended by Vice-President Samia Suluhu Hassan, Zanzibar President Dr Hussein Mwinyi and other high-ranking government officials and Members of Parliament.
Thanking the president for his re-appointment, Mr Majaliwa said cases of hiking cement prices emerged during the 62-day general election campaigns before polling day on October 28.
He directed Regional Commissioners to come up with a comprehensive report by Friday, November 20 at 10am.
According to Mr Majaliwa, the retail price of cement has increased by between 3,000/- and 4,000/- per 50 kg bag.
The premier wondered why there was an increase of the price of cement taking into account that the government had improved the transport infrastructure and business environment.
He said, for example, that the government has revived railway routes such as Dar es Salaam-Tanga-Arusha, saying that such improvements were designed to ease business operations.
Similarly, he said, the government had neither imposed new taxes nor limited raw materials, but, producers have decided to hike the price of the commodity badly needed in the construction industry.
“Since all Regional Commissioners are here… I order them to conduct a thorough assessment in all manufacturing plants and dealers regarding the situation. They must produce detailed reports before November 20,” he directed.
He said, so far, cement manufacturers have not given strong reasons leading to inflated prices of the commodity despite the fact that cement plants are connected to the gas pipeline.
“For those who use coals, we have enough to supply them, clicker is also available at the same market price,” he said demanding: “we need an explanation behind cement price hiking.”
On Monday, this paper reported that the price of cement remained high for the second month although manufacturers refuted reports of inflating the prices.
A bag of cement that is usually sold between 15,000/- and 16,000/- depending on the brand was available at between 19,000/- and 24,000/-.
Mr Majaliwa assured the public yesterday that the government will take all possible measures to address the situation. “This will be my first assignment as I return to the office,” he promised.
In another development, Mr Majaliwa said all ministries will be required to come up with strategies for proper implementation of 2020-2025 Chama Cha Mapinduzi Election Manifesto.