Philippine Administration Sen. Manuel B. Villar, Jr. yesterday called for an investigation into the recent hike in the prices of construction materials. "We are in the midst of a fiscal crisis and the public is at the receiving end of its ill effects. We should protect consumers by stabilising the prices of prime commodities. He asked the Senate committee on trade and commerce chaired by Sen. Manuel A. Roxas II to conduct a probe in aid of legislation on the increase in prices of construction materials in the country.
"Under the Price Act, the price coordinating council was created to coordinate the productivity, distribution and price stabilization programs, projects and measures of the government and develop comprehensive strategies to effect a general stabilization of prices of basic necessities and prime commodities at affordable levels. Notwithstanding the Price Act and the presence of the price coordinating council, prices of several construction materials still soared this month due to higher production expenses," Mr. Villar said in his resolution calling for the Senate inquiry.
He noted the report of the Construction Industry Authority of the Philippines (CIAP) which stated the highest price increase of cement and steel. The CIAP announced that the price of a 40-kg sack of cement rose by 20 per cent to P160-P170 from P140. The price of steel bars also increased to P170 from P145.
"We should strictly monitor the prices of building materials and should not let any cartel dictate prices. The increases in the price of cement will affect the completion of ongoing programs of the government in housing and other infrastructure-related projects. It will cause a chain reaction and will also affect other industries," Mr. Villar said.