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‘Price hike expected due to many factors’
KUWAIT CITY, May 31: The construction sector recently witnessed unprecedented price hikes of building materals which affected the construction cost, in addition to other factors like manpower shortage and high wages, reports Al Jarida daily. The Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI) affirmed that steps will be taken to tighten control over the prices of building materials, indicating legal measures will be taken against anyone who exploits the consumer’s need for any commodity and violates the law by increasing prices without justification. In this context, the daily asked several industrialists about the reasons behind the high prices of building materials and the possible solutions. They agreed that one of the most important reasons is the lack of manpower to operate the factories at their full production capacity, while wages doubled and this also affected the prices of building materials. Chairman of the Board of Directors of Sudair Company for Trading and Contracting Tariq Al-Mutawa said the building materials price hike crisis is a global issue, not just local, due to the economic imbalances caused by the corona pandemic.
He disclosed the freight and transportation fees have increased, which then affected the prices of building materials. He pointed out this is in addition to the lack of workers who operate factories at their full production capacity; and that prices have increased in most countries, not just in Kuwait. He added the wages have doubled and this affected the prices of building materials as well. He then stressed the need to implement a mechanism to ensure the return of workers who got stuck abroad due to the pandemic. He clarified the prices of building materials are linked to global events which positively or negatively affect prices, especially since many raw materials are imported so the external obstacles affect prices in the local market. He said the building materials sector — like the other economic sectors — was greatly affected by the corona crisis, particularly the closures and preventive measures that followed.
He added there should be balance between supply and demand to prevent a major change in prices. Chairman of the Board of Directors of Kuwait Industries Holding Company Muhammad Al-Naqi argued such price increase is expected due to many factors. He believes the most important factor is the low productivity of factories as most of their technical workers are stuck abroad. He said these workers’ inability to return to the country led to a decline in the production capacity of factories which can no longer meet the current demand. He also cited the high prices of raw materials due to high transportation fees, not to mention the fact that some people took advantage of the current situation by hoarding materials, which led to further increase in the prices of building materials. He underscored the need for the concerned authorities to balance supply and demand by organizing the construction process, such that high demand does not coincide with decrease in supply.
He pointed out that once the workers return from abroad, the productivity of factories will increase; hence, the concerned authorities must facilitate procedures for these workers to return as soon as possible. He warned that prices will keep on increasing if the present situation continues. Chairman of the Board of Directors of Amlak Capital Holding Company Mahmoud Al-Jumah attributed the remarkable increase in the prices of building materials to the great recession that lasted for almost a year due to the corona pandemic, the accompanying health and governmental measures, and public closures. He enumerated various factors leading to the remarkable price hike; such as the construction boom amidst the low production capacity of factories. He said some factories operate with a production capacity of 25 percent; thus, their inability to meet the current demand. He added the low production capacity of factories is due to their workers being banned from returning to Kuwait while those who are in the country have yet to be vaccinated. He thinks this led to an increase in wages that affected the prices of building materials in general. At this point, the building materials price hike will have dire consequences as several citizens will be forced to postpone the construction of their homes until the prices drop. This will also cause problems between contractors and citizens.