The Cement Manufacturers Association of the Philippines (CeMAP) has estimated that 75 per cent of the 161,000t of cement imported into the country in the first quarter of this year was technically smuggled, the Standard reports.
CeMAP’s president, Ernesto Ordoñez, claims that importers have been consistently understating the value of their cargoes to avoid taxes. Mr Ordoñez told a press conference: “If freight undervaluation goes unidentified and unpunished, this may lead not only to more such cases, but also to more serious violations such as cement misclassification and substandard cement. These pose imminent danger to safety and lives.”
However, the Association’s claims have been disputed by 4K, one of the importers. Their secretary-general, Rodel Pineda, accused Filipino firms of conspiring to maintain high prices and exclude competition. Mr Pineda told the Standard: “They are already benefitting from the Philippine Economic Zone Authority. They are getting special treatment from our government so what are they still complaining about?
“There is no technical smuggling among importers and what the cement cartel is trying to do is just to maintain a shortage in their products to make a killing because infrastructure is booming in our country”.