Mayor Braulio Yaranon has approved a City Council resolution, which called for a congressional inquiry on the alleged overpricing of cement by select manufacturers. The resolution was passed on account of reports mostly from construction firms that local manufacturers have overpriced the cement sold to them. With the prevailing market price of P165 to P170 per bag (now P195), the resolution stated that the production cost of cement costs only P70. As such, the price of cement should be lower than the prevailing market price.
"Cement prices must be fair and regulated considering its importance to infrastructure and other sectors that contribute to national growth and the economy as a whole," a portion of Resolution 135 states. And with reports that a cartel controls the price of cement, the body also stressed that a congressional inquiry could address the report. "There seems to be a cement cartel or monopoly in the country which must be addressed as the situation may affect the economy of the entire country," Fariñas said.
In Benguet, Board Members Aloysius Kato and Juan Nazarro also urged the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to regulate the price of cement. But the DTI in Cordillera said the agency does not have direct control over the price of cement. In a statement, Trade Regional Director Maritess Damian said the prevailing situation in the region does not call for a control on the price of this commodity. "Right now we have no automatic control on the prices. When there are reported increases, what we do is investigate and determine if there is overpricing. Only when we are declared under a state of calamity can we impose price control," Damian said.