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Cement tariff seen to hurt consumers

Consumer advocacy group Laban Konsyumer said Monday consumers should not shoulder the safeguard duty imposed by the Trade Department on imported cement. 

“To pass that duty on to the consumers may be a form of a corrupt action punishable under Section 3 (e) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practice Act,” said Laban Konsyumer president Victorio Mario Dimagiba.

“The DTI found local plants supply at 35 million MT while demand stands at 32 million MT and that imports grew 17 percent in 2017 and caused serious injury to the local plants. The safeguard duty is prescribed as the medicine to the serious injury caused by imports, thus, passing the buck of the safeguard duty to the consumers makes the whole investigation useless. It appears that the agenda is to increase prices of cement at the expense of the consumers,” Dimagiba said.

He said the safeguard duty should not be a part of the cost of the goods, whether produced or imported. 

“The safeguard duty should not injure the consumers at any time. The alleged injury to the local cement plants from imports of cement is solely, exclusively and primarily a business to business issue. The importers, whether the local plants or traders, should absorb the safeguard duty,” he said.