EDB reports increase in cement sales, a key economic indicator

By John McPhaul

Economic Development Bank for Puerto Rico (EDB) President Luis Alemañy González announced Wednesday that cement sales increased 31.7 percent during the past fiscal year, from 12.4 million to 16.3 million 94-pound bags of cement.

“The Center for Economic Studies of the Economic Development Bank informs us that the increase is registered as part of an upward trend, after Puerto Rico experienced the two largest and historic monthly reductions after the passage of hurricanes Irma and Maria in September 2017, and in April 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the BDE president said. “Sales were reported for less than 300,000 and less than half a million 94-pound bags for these two periods, respectively.”

“The strategies put in place by the administration of the Governor of Puerto Rico, Pedro Pierluisi have contributed significantly to this economic boost,” Alemañy González continued. “Hand in hand with the injection of federal funds into the reconstruction of Puerto Rico, this increase is an important indicator in the analysis and result. The high demand for the product can be related to the construction of infrastructure works and housing development. Regardless of these trends, sales represent a great economic investment.”

Center for Economic Studies economist Gladys Medina emphasized that “it should also be noted that during the first semester of 2021, which runs between January and June, sales totaled 8.2 million bags of 94 pounds, which translates to an increase of 42.5 percent compared to the same period of the previous year.”

“The level of sales achieved during the past fiscal year is comparable to other historically high levels when between 14 and 16 million bags were sold annually,” she added.

Another BDE economist, Juan C. González, noted that “the report details that from the statistics compiled it is also observed that sales last June represented a decrease of 18.8 percent compared to the same month of 2020, from 1,597,434 to 1,297,643 94-pound bags.”

“However, it is emphasized that cement sales in June 2020 were the highest since a state of emergency was decreed in Puerto Rico due to COVID-19,” he said.

Alemañy said “the construction industry faced great challenges during the first months of 2020 after the earthquakes, because construction could not start strongly until the tremors ended.”

“As of March of the same year, all economic activities on the island were put on hold due to the measures implemented to contain the spread of the [corona]virus,” he said. “Along with manufacturing, economic activities related to the cement industry were among the first authorized to restart last year, as early as May 2020, which turned out to be key in the rebound observed today in the cement industry.”

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