DTI watches cement price hike threat

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The Department of Trade Industry (DTI) is closely watching cement prices nationwide amid reports of producers’ attempts to increase their rates despite adequate supply.

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Victorio Mario Dimagiba, DTI undersecretary for consumer protection, told reporters on Wednesday that cement firms tried to raise prices early in February, but stiff competition among producers prevented the increase.

He added that there is enough supply of cement, even in the provinces. In fact, the price of cement has gone down by P3 per 40-kilogram bag, and the prevailing price today is P215 to P220 per bag, he said.

Dimagiba said the price reduction was implemented last week and cement firms are now being closely watched by the DTI.

Early last month, the DTI issued show-cause orders to cement manufacturers and retailers, asking them to explain the P8-increase in the price of a 40-kilogram bag of cement.

“It’s competition, market forces working, so they reduced prices by P3 per bag last week and they [cement firms]are now under special monitoring [by the DTI],” he said.

“We have two teams in the National Capital Region doing monitoring on safety and quality standards, but will also include price monitoring,” Dimagiba said.

The DTI warned that any act of price manipulation by retailers, manufacturers, importers and distributors of basic necessities and prime commodities carries a penalty of imprisonment for a period of not less than five years nor more than 15 years, or a fine of not less than P5,000 but not more than P2 million. VOLT PALAÑA

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