A lawmaker has asked the Philippine House of Representatives to investigate the rising price of cement in the market, allegedly being manipulated by local cement producers.
In House Resolution No. 158, Rep. Arthur Pingoy, Jr. (2nd District, South Cotabato) urged the House committee on trade and industry to conduct an inquiry on the alleged irregularity.
Pingoy said the high price of cement has affected many sectors since cement is an essential component in the construction industry and the government’s infrastructure and housing programs.
"Reports and complaints continue to come from many sectors regarding the unabated and uncontrolled increases in the prices of cement," Pingoy said.
Reports said Trade and Industry Secretary Peter Favila has accused the members of the Cement Manufacturers Association of the Philippines (CEMAP) of jacking up financing charges in their books to justify the high prices of cement and of crediting unbelievable high interest rates the banks supposedly charge them.
Pingoy said the high interest charges being claimed by the cement companies are being passed on to consumers, resulting in higher cement price.
Pingoy said three cement manufacturers accounted for nearly 90 percent of the market with the remainder in the hands of four small independent cement producers.
"No wonder that cement price in the country are among the highest in Asia with the World Bank pegging last year the price per ton at $72 compared to $35 in China, $50 in Thailand, and $65 in Vietnam," Pingoy said.
Pingoy said the investigation will not only limit its inquiry on the manipulation of the price of cement but also the filing up of appropriate criminal and civil charges such as, but not limited to, unfair competition in commercial or industrial enterprises and violations of laws against monopolies and restraints of trade.