Cement safeguard duty refund sought

Cement importers are seeking for refund of P1.28 billion safeguard duties paid on their importation.

This developed as the Cement Importers Association of the Philippines (CIAP) filed a petition before the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) to challenge the imposition of the definitive safeguard duty on imported cement imposed by the Department of Trade and Industry.

The importers urged the tax court to void the three-year safeguard duty stressing that imported cement poses no threat of injury to the local cement industry. With that, the traders sought for refund of the safeguard duties paid.

Of the total safeguard duties paid by the importers, Philcement Corp. has the biggest share of P515.520 million, including P53.052 million in provisional duties and P462.467 million in definitive safeguard duties.

The second biggest cement importer is a company called Fortem with total paid safeguard duties of P433.321 million, including definitive duties of P259.167 million and provisional duties of P174.154 million.

Another importer NGC has a claim of P239.28 million, including P159.681 million in definitive safeguard duties and P79.598 million provisional duties.

The other refund claims were from two importers Cohaco Trading and Pabaza.

Cohaco said it paid P64.885 million in total safeguard duties, including P52.166 million definitive and P12.719 million in provisionals duties, while Pabaza said it paid P30.486 million, including P22.034 million in definitive and P8.452 million in provisional duties.

It could be recalled that the Trade and Industry Secretary imposed safeguard duty of P250 per metric ton or P10 per 40 kilogram bag of imported cement on the first year of the implementation of the safeguard duty.

On the second year, the safeguard duty was lowered to P225 per metric ton or P9 per 40-kg bag, and P200 per MT or P8 per 40-kg bag for the third year. The three-year safeguard duty will end next year yet.

The safeguard measure was implemented following a determination by the DTI and the Tariff Commission that the surge in imported cement has caused serious injury to local cement manufacturers.

Consumer advocacy group Laban Konsyumer Inc. earlier raised before the CTA that the refund of the safeguard duty is a consumer issue because that had been passed on to buyers.