Philippine cement manufacturers, backed by the Bureau of Customs (BoC), yesterday argued to the Tariff Commission that imported cement is undervalued and is hurting the local industry.
This, as the Tariff Commission yesterday started public hearings on a Palace-backed move to eliminate tariffs on imported cement due to increases in prices of locally produced cement since 2004.
Cement Manufacturers Association of the Philippines (CeMAP) President Ernesto M. Ordonez said the government has problems in monitoring smuggled cement from abroad and that slashing tariffs would only hurt the industry and will not directly benefit consumers.
"Given that we (Philippines) have problems in monitoring, to lower the 5% tariff to 0% is unappropriate," he said.
CeMAP operations manager Vincent B. Castillo III said consumers do not directly benefit from cheaper cement imports because importers also sell them at the same price as locally produced cement. "We want the Tariff Commission to look into how these low-priced goods actually benefit consumers," he said.
According to the Tariff Commission, each bag of Portland and Pozzolan cement is sold from P88-P92 and P93-P96 per 40-kilogram bag compared with the P175 price of local counterparts.
Mr. Ordonez said the figures culled by the Tariff Commission were not "the real value" because each ton of cement comes in at $33 instead of the "real" $61.
"You (Tariff Commission) must have a complete and detailed listing to know the actual trend," he said.
Stanley Villavicencio, a BoC evaluation officer summoned to the hearing, said technical smuggling remains rampant.