Sales and Marketing Manager, Briony Tiwari said that based on fuel, spares and maintenance, her company was selling stone with a target price of GUY$8,500 per ton.
She assured that if those variable input costs decline, stone could be supplied at GUY$7,000. The company plans to re-establish a small hydroelectricity plant there to help reduce its operational costs. Governnment has, however, cited the high cost of stone as one of the major indicators of a shortage; the other being importation of the material from the Caribbean.
“We are monitoring the market, we are watching our expenses, we are trying to create a price to have that price for the local consumers,” she told reporters during a field-trip rebut government’s claims of a stone shortage.
Chief Executive Officer of BK International Group of Companies again threatened to export stone if government makes good on its plan to import the vital construction material in an effort to bring down the price on the local market to an estimated GUY$7,000 tons.
“As soon as the government ships come in with the stone, my own is going out the next day,” he said. He ruled out taking his concerns to the Competitiveness and Fair Trading Commission fearing that government would attempt to embarrass his company.
BK Quarries Geologist, Omar Persaud assured that granite, which his company produces, was scientifically proven to be of a higher quality compared to basalt that is being imported from St.Lucia. In contrast to granite, Persaud said basalt deteriorates quickly by water because of the high iron but low silica content. He said basalt could not take much pressure and absorbs a lot of asphalt during road construction.
Company officials assured that BK Quarries could triple its production overnight to meet the demand. Currently, the quarry produces 30 to 40,000 tons of stone monthly.
The company said it has shipped more than 8,000 tons of aggregates in the last three days and another 12,000 tons are on the ground. BK Quarries offficials also said there was insufficient space at the Kingston wharf to store more stone.
Tiwari claimed that Public Work Minister, Robeson Benn was targeting him. “It’s a personal attack. It’s no other problem.” He recalled experiencing difficulty acquiring his licence, resulting in legal action having to be taken
Asked whether he believed that his business was being targeted since Bharrat Jagdeo demitted the presidency, Tiwari brushed aside the question. “I don’t know. Politics is not my way. I do my work. I fight with the government all the time but I’m not going to sit down and the government is going to say there is no stone and there is stone,” he said.
He disputed that government’s demand was 97,000 tons per month and instead put the figure at 30,000 tons.
Told that the government figure was based on a report on the status of stone supply and demand, the company said it would be interested in acquiring a copy to assist in satisfying the demand.