Seriously doubting the ability of local cement players to reduce prices, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has decided to finally impose the P5 reduction of the P20.60 safeguard tariff on per bag of imported cement as well as reduced the number of inspection period for such imports from 28 days to 7 to 14 days to facilitate supply and counter the high prices of local cement. This twin measure was revealed by Trade and Industry Secretary Cesar V. Purisima to reporters at the sidelines of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry General Membership meeting, where he was the guest speaker. The P5 reduction per bag will have to be published soon to effect the reduction in safeguard measure to P15.60. ³We are not satisfied with their ability to reduce prices so we focus on access of market by reducing the number of inspection period from 28 days to 14 or 7 days,²Purisima said noting that ³by raising the inspection days to 28 days you practically disallowed imports.² Purisima said that reduction of inspection period will have more impact to local cement manufacturers.
Cement imports are being inspected by the Bureau of Product Standards to ensure they comply with the standards required by building constructors but by requiring a 28-day inspection period ³you practically disallowed imports² because cement has a shorter shelf life as cement easily hardens after awhile. Purisima said this as he shelved an earlier plan to reduce the safeguard measure by another P5 per bag or a total of P10.
Purisima personally conducted monitoring of prices of cement and noted the high prices of cement in Davao despite the presence of a cement manufacturing plant.
Purisima visited Davao recently and was puzzled as to the high prices of cement in that area at dealer¹s price of P137 per bag and ex-plant of P131 per bag when there is a presence a cement firm there. Comparatively, prices of cement in Metro Manila was placed at P125 per bag. He said that cement prices in Davao should have been lower because the cost of power in Mindanao is supposed to be lower than in Manila.