Saying that lifting cement tariffs to the Philippines would have serious repercussions on the local industry and its workers, Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr said it is incumbent upon the country’s economic managers to study the matter carefully and not rush into any decision.
The senator made the call after Press Secretary Jesus Dureza denied the other day that President Arroyo has already signed an Executive Order scrapping cement tariffs. He stressed that the country’s economic managers are still studying the proposal.
Aquino said the conflicting reports only add further anxiety to the cement industry and its workers. The apprehension stems from the possible dumping of imported cement that threatens the viability of local cement companies and the job security of over 100,000 workers if and when the President allows the tariff lifting.
Based on Dureza’s statement, the Palace recognizes that while cutting cement tariffs would allegedly bring down cement prices, the same could compromise jobs in the cement industry. Hence the need for further study, Dureza said.
Trade secretary Peter Favila had favored the lifting of cement tariffs due to the alleged high prices of local cement.
Trade groups, however, oppose the tariff lifting stressing that it is only meant to favor some importers to the detriment of Philippine industries and local jobs.
Concerns have also been raised over the possible entry of sub-standard cement and government’s inability to test and ensure that only those that passed Philippine and international standards are allowed to be sold in the market.