DTI: No need for cement SRP for now

Published April 29, 2019, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said there is no need to impose an SRP (suggested retail price) on cement for now unless prices have, indeed, climbed to P240 per 40-kilogram bag of this major construction material.

 Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez (Bloomberg)
Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez (Bloomberg)

“As of now, there is no need to impose SRP but if we can see prices prevalent already at P240 then we can impose an SRP to bring it back to P220,” Lopez told reporters.

Lopez said he still has to look at the reports to see if, indeed, prices have gone up because during the latest National Price Coordinating Council meeting, cement prices hovered around P220 to P225 only depending on areas.

The DTI was supposed to come up with an SRP on cement following its decision to impose in February a provisional P8.40 per 40-kilogram bag safeguard duty on imported cement. The SRP on cement should ensure stable prices of cement while the Tariff Commission conducts a final determination whether or not there has been a surge in imported cement and such has caused serious injury to the domestic cement manufacturers and merit the imposition of a permanent safeguard duty.

However, on Friday last week, the Commission has notified cement stakeholders that its public hearings scheduled on May 6-10 on the final determination on the imposition of safeguard measure on imported cement have been postponed because they still need more time to conduct plant visits and data verification.

The commission’s notice of postponement did not specify when they could resume the hearing, which was originally set from May 6-10. Under its timeline, the commission is supposed to come up a decision on May 21 whether or not they will concur with the initial determination of the DTI that there has been a surge in cement importation causing seriously injury to the domestic cement manufacturers.

Meantime, consumer group Laban Konsyumer Inc. has urged DTI to impose the SRP. “The SRP on cement is part of the DTI order when it slapped imported cement with the provisional safeguard duty,” LKI President Victorio Mario Dimagiba pointed out. When the DTI issued order in February this year, the prevailing average price of cement was at P220 per bag.

In light of the possible delay in the public hearing, LKI President Victorio Mario Dimagiba has urged the commission to keep with the prescribed period of May 21, 2019 by which they are supposed to come up with a decision.

“The Tariff Commission should complete the investigation within the prescribed period by law, notwithstanding the postponement of the hearing. Otherwise the TC should dismiss the investigation motu propio,” Dimagiba said.

In imposing the provisional safeguard duty on imported cement, DTI Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said its preliminary probe showed there is enough domestic capacity of 35 million metric tons to meet the estimated local demand of 25 million MT.

DTI also said that imported cement increased from only 3,558 metric tons in 2013 to more than 3 million MT in 2017. The share of imports (from non-manufacturer or “pure” traders) increased from only 0.02 percent to 15 percent during the same period. Equally important, DTI said the industry experienced a sharp decline in income (earnings before interest and taxes) of 49 percent in 2017.