Press Release
January 8, 2010

Round up profiteers
Chiz urges DTI to explain cement price surge

Opposition Sen. Chiz Escudero yesterday said that Trade and Industry Secretary Peter Favila should explain why the price of cement has surged to P270 per bag, double its price two years ago.

"Any price cap at this point will not help consumers who had no choice but to buy their cement at inflated prices. What was DTI doing while the profiteers were making a killing?," he said.

Favila has said that he will make a decision Friday whether to impose price caps on cement after discovering that retailers were selling cement higher than the suggested retail prices.

Cement manufacturers have denied a supply shortage and opposed price controls on cement, blaming dealers and retailers for the unwarranted increases in the commodity.

A study by the Board of Investments (BOI) quoted by Favila in March last year showed that the ideal price of cement should be at P185 per 50-kilogram bag, lower by P40 than the P205 per bag of cement being sold then.

"This only shows that the DTI knew long ago, even before Ondoy and Pepeng struck Metro Manila and Luzon, that cement prices were overpriced. Why they failed to act against profiteers need to be explained," Escudero said.

The Bicolano lawmaker pointed out that under Sec. 3 (8) of the RA 7581, cement falls under the category of prime commodities and the law empowers the DTI to impose a mandated price ceiling.

"The least the DTI can do now is round up the profiteers and impose the necessary penalties," he said

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