Guyanese President Bharrat Jagdeo has hit out at the Trinidad Cement Limited (TCL), saying the regional company was taking advantage of the Guyanese market.
Jagdeo's comments came on the heels of the court action initiated by TCL Guyana Inc against his government in the Caribbean Court of Justice.
TCL is seeking millions of dollars in damages, saying Guyana had failed to impose the common external tariff (CET) on cement imported from outside the region.
But Jagdeo said his government had waived the CET to allow the importation of cement from outside the region in order to meet the shortfall in TCL's supply.
The shortages had led to skyrocketing cement prices, Jagdeo said, forcing Guyanese to pay more for the commodity.
Minister of Commerce Manniram Prashad added that TCL could not and continues to be unable to meet the local demand for cement.
But beyond that, he had no comment on the suit, saying up to Tuesday the government had no official word on the court action.
The CCJ application filed by attorneys for TCL claims that Guyana violated the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas when it waived the CET on the extra-regional imports, giving an unfair advantage to extra-regional suppliers and local importers to the detriment of the company.
It claimed that the move resulted in losses around US$2 million and has asked for compensation and/or injunctive relief.
The cement company had set up a US$10 million bagging plant in Guyana during the construction boom there as the country prepared for the 2007 Cricket World Cup in the Caribbean.
Friday April 18, 2008