The cement operations in West Bank have surprisingly come to a halt in the Palestinian territories because the Palestinian Commercial Services Company (PCSC) has charged for the Israeli cement whose rates are high and unjustified for further processes.
A member of the Palestinian Construction Industries Union, Khalid Assaf said in an interview with Gulf News that a total of 67 ready-made-cement companies will not operate in West Bank unless the PSCS does not change its decision to increase the prices of the cement by 18 Shekels (Dh18) officially effective from February 1. However, the cost of the cement will be increased by another 18 Shekels by the start of June this year.
Earlier in 2013, the PSCS boosted its prices/fees for Israeli cement to four times its original figure. This incident took place because the Palestinian suppliers could not charge their clients as they had already agreed upon one fixed price and hence, all the ready-made-cement companies suffered some serious losses in their cementing businesses.
After all the protests, PSCS has now offered the Palestinian cement companies to raise the price of ready-made-cement (each cubic meter) to 350 Shekels (i.e. the current rate of the currency is 300 Shekels). Nevertheless, PSCS makes a profit of 80 Shekels from a single ton of cement and takes pride in the monopoly played on the cement imported from Nasher Israel Cement Enterprises, said Assaf. He also commented that halting operations in the West Bank are suicidal for the cement companies; however, continuing the operations under the existing prices is an execution.
The increase in cement prices has been put under thorough investigation and West Bank based cement companies have reasoned that there has been no price increase from the Israeli side, which in turn has marred the West Bank’s sense of justification in the cement industry.
The need to find for various alternatives apart from the Israeli companies has become extremely necessary.
Besides all the above, the set up of cement factories in the West Bank and the set up of clinker crushers are extremely necessary. Assaf said that the cement prices are less than the West Bank across different parts of the world. The problem is with the Palestinians and not the Israelis. PSCS desires to make maximum profit without major efforts, he stressed.
Several owners of the ready-made cement companies in the West Bank have encouraged the PSCS to employ substantial staff so that the factories with the owners are content with 20 Shekels profit (per cubic meter of cement).
Furthermore, the Construction in the West Bank is likely to be affected badly by different cementing industries and the strike will affect a total of 73 professionals too.
Moatasem Malouh, an owner of a ready-made cement factory told PSCS that it has ended up in a financial crisis situation and nevertheless, the PSCS’s agreement with the Israeli cement factory qualifies that PSCS should import bulks of cement that cannot be stored.
PSCS is minting high profits from cement, and in turn the cement factories are paying high taxes at the end of the year. These operations have to stop at PSCS’s end. The cement companies also pay huge prices for the diesel and income tax.
Nevertheless, PSCS has declined to comment on the issue and said the entire situation is currently under revision.