Wholesalers and retailers of steel products including iron rods have described as unacceptable, selfish and unpatriotic, the increase in prices of steel products by the seven steel manufacturing companies operating in Ghana.
The companies, B5 plus, Ferro Fabriks, United Steel, Tema Steel, Sentuo Steel, Fabrimental and Rider Steel company Limited have communicated to their wholesalers and retailers that they have adjusted their prices of Mild Steel in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID 19) outbreak and its challenges to local businesses in Ghana.
This latest increment however comes on the back of President Akufo-Addo’s announcement of 50 % reduction in electricity cost for all businesses and individuals above the poverty line as part of measures to cushion the country against the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Ghana News Express has learnt that the increment by the seven companies, who have formed a cartel, has been happening on a monthly basis since November 2019.
A message sent to all wholesalers intercepted by this portal reads; “Please find attached the following as Mild Steel Rods price schedule with effect from 1st March, 2020.Mild Steel: 10,11,188.8.131.52 millimeters now sells at 3,200 cedis instead of the 3000 cedis. Also 20 millimeters now sells 3,280 instead of 2900 cedis. Regards”.
Similar messages were sent in November, December, January and February culminating in an almost 100 percent increment in steel products.
Further checks by Ghana News Express revealed that the B5, Tema Steel and the other steel companies enjoy exclusive manufacturing of the iron rods and other steel products because of government’s ban on the importation of steel into Ghana.
Reports suggest that the companies have deliberately created an artificial shortage of the products to force the wholesalers and retailers to buy at their price.
A source in the steel wholesaling business told this portal that they are helpless because government officials aware of this “daylight robbery and exploitation by the cartel” have refused to act on their concerns.
“We think that the seven companies are unpatriotic, selfish and greedy because how do you explain this. Government has reduced cost of electricity which has brought down their cost of production which is a major key input but instead they have decided to increase prices and people cannot afford and we have no one to speak for us”.
“Worst still they have created an artificial shortage so we have no option than to buy from them because we cannot import from China and elsewhere which is far cheaper because of the government ban”.
“I think the president, the minister for trade should look into this because this is cheating especially in this time where everyone is sacrificing to help the country out of this mess to the economy the Coronavirus has created,” he intimated. When reached out for response, managers of some of the companies refused to comment.33