KATHMANDU, Aug 24: The domestic market will see face acute shortage of cement beginning next week as manufacturers of the key construction ingredient have expressed inability to comply with the government´s mandatory provision on packaging cement in laminated sacks.
This is expected to put jobs of 12,000 people at stake.
Currently, unlaminated sacks made of polymer is being used to package cement. Calling these sacks of inferior quality, the government had earlier given 91 days to cement manufacturers to use laminated sacks or halt supply of cement. The deadline expires Sunday.
"The government took the decision without conducting in-depth research,” Atma Ram Murarka, the president of Cement Manufacturers´ Association of Nepal (CMAN), said. "We will stop supply of cement in the market from next week if the government fails to take back its decision.”
According to CMAN statistics, around 10,000 people are employed in the country´s cement industry and an additional 2,000 in sack manufacturing units. "The government´s immature and haphazard decision will affect huge investment that has gone into the sector and will put question mark on livelihood of thousands of workers," Murarka said.
The industry, which has attracted Rs 50 billion worth of investment in a total of 40 cement factories across the country, has found it quite improbable to comply with the government´s instruction, as it takes "at least 15 to 18 months even to lay down the infrastructure in the factory to start producing laminated sacks," Murarka told mediapersons.
"So far, no factory in the country can produce laminated sacks,” he said. "At least, the Ministry of Industry (MoI) and the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology (MoEST) should have consulted us before taking such a major decision."
Meanwhile, Nepal Woven Fabric and Sacks Manufacturers´ Association (NWFSMA) has also condemned the government decision.
"We can´t produce laminated sacks as we don´t have the technology," Basu Dev Golyan, the president of the NWFSMA, said at an interaction. "It costs additional Rs 600 million to install the technology capable of producing laminated sacks."
According to Golyan, the use of laminated sacks for cement packing will increase the cost by Rs 20 per sack, which will ultimately have to be borne by consumers.
"Since we can´t produce laminated sacks, Rs 1.2 billion will fly abroad to import laminated sacks," Golyan said. "Besides, it takes around 6 months to import sacks from abroad."
Citing examples in other countries, Golyan said, even China and India have not enforced any law on use of laminated sacks.