Commerce Minister, Donville Inniss has not shifted from his stance that the rate of duty should be lowered on imported hydraulic cement.

In fact, Mr. Inniss has reiterated that the State intends to stand by its decision to lower the tariff rate, and the once 60 per cent tariff to protect cement produced in Barbados by the Arawak Cement Limited might soon be at an end.

Speaking this morning after a private meeting at his Reef Road office with the Trinidad Cement Limited (TCL) and Arawak Cement Limited, the Minister said that he felt the meeting was ???very instructive???, as he has been meeting continuously with TCL and Arawak over the last year or so.

Stating that the companies would naturally have concerns about the decision to lower the rate of duty on some types of cement entering Barbados, the Commerce Minister said that he explained to them again the rationale behind Government???s decision.??

He stressed that the intent was not to cause any harm but more or less to help drive efficiencies in the system, and to ensure consumers got a better price on the much-needed raw material.

???We would have our differences on the methodologies employed and the policies being pursued but at the end of the day, we want to ensure that Arawak Cement Limited remains a viable entity in Barbados,??? Mr. Inniss asserted.

Noting that he was supportive of the company???s restructuring plans, as well as its efforts to bring its prices down, the Commerce Minister also lauded Arawak Cement???s commitment to increasing exports of Portland Grey cement from Barbados.

Group Chief Executive Officer of TCL, Jose Seijo; General Manager of Arawak Cement limited, Rupert Greene; Business Consultant for TCL, David Inglefield; and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Commerce, Philmore Best, also attended the meeting.

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