Cartel hit for cement price increases

Cartel hit for cement price increases
Published: 19 February 2004

Philippines: the Department of Trade and Industry has been asked to re-evaluate its policies on the cement industry especially now that cement has undergone a series of unreasonable price increase over the past few months. According to officials, they have noticed a series of increases in cement prices over a short period of time and are surprised why the DTI is not stepping in to ensure that cement would remain affordable in the market. Only last December, Nograles, the House Committee on Housing and Urban Development Chairman, said that cement prices per bag was P117-P125/bag but last month, it has gone up to P120-P145 per bag. This month, Nograles said that he noticed that cement price now cost P125-P160 per bag.

This unmitigated increase in cement prices is really alarming. The DTI should really look into this and make sure that cement will remain affordable, Nograles said.  Nograles blamed the collusion among cement cartels in this continuous increase in cement prices as he urged the DTI to institute measures that would force local cement manufacturers to lower their prices or to allow immediate importation of cheaper cement.

Nograles also said that only recently, local cement manufacturers vowed to implement a strict monitoring of cement prices as the DTI held off a reduction in the P20.60 per bag safeguard tariff. The local cement makers agreed to strictly monitor prevailing cement prices to be able to pinpoint the causes of price manipulation.  These cement manufacturers failed to deliver on their promise to keep cement prices within reasonable range. What’s happening is not exactly what we expect from them. In just a period of three months, cement prices underwent a series of increases but we have yet to hear an explanation from them, Nograles said.

Nograles expects that unless the DTI steps in to stop cement cartels from manipulating increases of cement prices, cement prices will further go up with the onset of the summer season.  Because of this, Nograles said that DTI should review its decision to hold off the reduction of tariff safeguard for imported cement to ensure that local cement manufacturers only sell their cement at a reasonable price.