DTI readies profiteering charges, Philippines

DTI readies profiteering charges, Philippines
Published: 23 January 2010

The Department of Trade and Industry is preparing to press profiteering charges against cement industry players following the collection of evidence that they have overpriced their cement.

Trade Secretary Peter Favila declined to name which specific players would face profiteering charges, saying only that these were not only confined to retailers and distributors, but also included manufacturers.

“We’ll file charges against them, but only against those that we have evidence [backing up our suspicion of overpricing]. We’ve gathered some evidence, so now we’re ready to file,” he told reporters Friday.

Since late last year, the DTI has been conducting market inspections to determine why prices of cement were skyrocketing despite normal supply.

To prevent finger-pointing, the DTI ordered cement manufacturers to submit pertinent documents concerning their pricing and deliveries to distributors and retailers. Retailers and distributors, on the other hand, were subjected to spot checks.

With enough evidence on hand, Favila said cases would finally be filed.

But Cement Manufacturers Association of the Philippines president Ernesto Ordoñez said it was unfair for the DTI to include manufacturers in the roster of those against whom it would file charges.

“Before December, only one manufacturer raised its price, and it was only by P3-P5 [a bag]. After December, there were also some increases, but it was only around P10 a bag, or less than 5 percent of the P205 [suggested retail price],” he related.