The Philippine Tariff Commission will weigh a government proposal to temporarily lift tariffs on imported cement to ease local prices of the commodity.
The commission will meet en banc today to study the merits of the government petition asking for a short-term elimination of tariffs on imported cement, a source said.
The source the rising prices of cement had been adversely affecting the government’s mass housing program.
The tariff body earlier rejected a request of the Cement Manufacturers Association of the Philippines for the commission to conduct another public hearing on the issue since local cement manufacturers were not fully represented in the first and only hearing conducted on May 8.
The source said the commission denied the request after the collegial body fully complied with the notification proceedings as required by law.
The association, the source said, was given enough time to present its opposition to the plan. The commission has assured the group it would take into consideration the position of the group.
In its position paper submitted before the tariff body, the association questioned the government proposal, saying the proposal would mean an influx of cheaper imports and would weigh down on sales of local cement manufacturers.
The commission would submit its ruling to the inter-agency committee on tariff and related matters for approval before going to the Cabinet-level committee on tariff and related matters, and finally to Malacañang.
The source said the inter-agency committee on tariff and related matters usually upholds the decision of the collegial body.
Government has proposed to bring down to zero tariffs commodities like cement clinker, Portland cement and Pozzolan cement, invoking Section 401 of the Tariff and Customs Code that gives the President the power to adjust tariffs on specific products for a limited period.
Tariffs on cement are presently pegged at 3 percent for those coming from Asean and 5 percent from non-Asean sources. Elaine Ruzul S. Ramos