Media Release from Rushton Paray, Member of Parliament for Mayaro .
7th February 2021.
PM MUST INTERVENE IN STEEL PRICE CRISIS .
The Government must hold urgent discussions with the construction and hardware sectors on the soaring costs of steel products.
The skyrocketing steel prices are sending construction prices through the roof for homes, commercial, industrial and public works.
The benchmark prices have increased dramatically as a result of a huge international imbalance in supply and demand, as construction has risen sharply after the initial Covid-19 shutdown.
This means much higher construction costs for local homeowners, businessmen, industrialists and the Government.
The price tags for some steel products have climbed by almost 100 per cent over the past few months.
Along with the on-going shortage of foreign exchange, this is leading to a historic crisis in the construction industry.
There is also the likelihood of shipping disruptions as a result of labour issues caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Against that backdrop, Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley should immediately set up a Cabinet Sub-Committee to hold discussions with stakeholders on possible short-term solutions to the emergency.
The Committee should consider, among other proposals, a price subsidy for low-income home builders and increased provision of foreign exchange for commodity importers.
The international prediction is for inventories to remain low for the next few months as steel mills slowly reach full production capacity and catch up with market demands.
The Government should, therefore, meet contractors of Housing Development Corporation (HDC) houses and Urban Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (UDECOTT) projects and recalibrate timelines and costs to taxpayers.
The crisis is negatively impacting an important economic sector and thousands of people, and the Government, should, therefore, act quickly and decisively.
The Government must provide leadership in formulating creative responses to the critical and pressing financial problem.
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