House to Probe Cement Manufacturers over Price Hike

•To investigate collapse of drug revolving funds’ scheme, indebtedness of federal health institutions to pharmaceutical firms

Juliet Akoje in Abuja

The House of Representatives yesterday, mandated its Committees on Solid Minerals Development, Commerce, Industry and Special Duties to invite cement manufacturers over the arbitrary increase in the price of cement by in the country and report back within four weeks within for further legislative action.

The resolution followed the adoption of a motion on the ‘Need to Investigate the Arbitrary Increase in the Price of Cement by Manufacturers of Cement in Nigeria,’ sponsored by Hon. Gaza Jonathan Gbefwi and Hon. Ademorin Kuye, at plenary.

Gbefwi, noted that the manufacturers of cement had increased the price of their products by about 50 per cent, leading to sharp hike in cost of building materials, blocks as well as the price of rent in the country.

He also noted that raw materials for the manufacture of cement, which include lime, silica, alumina, iron oxide, and gypsum, are all sourced locally and not affected by exchange rate volatility.

The lawmaker further informed the House that all factors of production and elements of the cement production flow chart are also sourced locally and have not changed significantly year-on-year.

“The manufacturers of cement are capitalising on exchange volatility to arbitrarily increase the price of the product, whose cost of production has not changed significantly since last year,” he said.

He further alleged that cement producers were inflicting hardship on Nigerians as the prices of rent and associated services have increased.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives yesterday has mandated its Committee on Health institutions to investigate the collapse of the drug revolving funds scheme, verify facts and also report back within four weeks for further legislative actions.

The resolution followed the adoption of a motion on the ‘Collapse Revolving Funds and Indebtedness of Federal Health Institutions to the Pharmaceutical Firms in Nigeria,’ moved by Hon. Adedayo Samuel Adesola, Hon. Amos Magaji Gwamna and Hon. Regina Akume.

Adesola, recalled media report of second November, 2023 that the Drug Revolving Funds scheme, created as a result of the Essential Drug Act, was to address challenges of the perennial out of stock syndrome of drugs in public health institutions.

He also noted that the Drugs Revolving Funds scheme was initially successful, but had been hurt by hospital management.

He further informed the House of the existence of the Drugs Revolving Funds (DRF), a National Contingency Plan designed to tackles the menace of out-of-stock syndromes in public pharmacy department and ensure that Federal Health Institutions were adequately stocked with essential drugs for medically challenged Nigerians.

“This laudable initiative has been abused over a period of time through the accumulation of unpaid supplies from pharmaceutical firm under this funding arrangement, culminating in its eventual collapse.

“The Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) has called on the past administration to probe the activities of the National Hospital, Igbobi affair in order to resuscitate the Drug Revolving scheme.

“Unless the collapse of the drug revolving fund is addressed, as a matter of urgency, further supplies of these essential drugs to Federal Health Institutions will remain a pipedream, thereby increasing pressure on the already struggling healthcare system,” he added.

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