Body set up to probe cement prices hike causes

Body set up to probe cement prices hike causes
Published: 26 March 2007

The Monopoly Control Authority (MCA) Chairman, Khalid A Mirza, has set up a four-member committee to investigate the alleged cartelisation of cement manufacturers, and other possible aspects, which led to sharp rise and fluctuations in cement prices.  
 
This action is the follow-up of Cabinet decision asking the MCA to look into the allegations of any cartelisation. He said the process would take some time as MCA research team would have to dig out the facts, with proofs.  
 
It is feared that the MCA investigation may be delayed as the committee chairman has gone abroad, and is expected back in April. However, some informed circles say that hoarding of cement may also be a major cause of cement price hike in the country.  
 
The variation in cement prices from as low as Rs 155 to Rs 300 per 50 kg bag in various cities of the country from January to February may have tempted the stockists and dealers to lift bulk quantities from cheaper rate areas, to make windfall profits, they said.  
 
They also opined that the sudden escalation in the price and fluctuations could be the result of connivance of manufacturers with dealers. The latter knew that prices were lowered for a certain period, and they lifted heavy stocks. On the other hand, informed circles said that the high sales also helped the industry to release its dead stocks.  
 
They were of the view that cartelisation might not be the sole reason of sudden price hikes, which must also be probed. However, manipulation by both manufacturers and dealers, too, should not be ignored.