The committee on trade and industry of the House of Representatives will undertake a full-blown investigation into the reported upsurge on the price of cement in the country, for the purpose of preventing it from "spiraling uncontrollably."
The impending probe had been set in motion through House Resolution no. 625 filed by Quirino Rep. Junie E. Cua, chairman of the House committee on appropriations, who expressed concern over the constant and steady increase in cement prices since 2002.
The investigation aims to compel LaFarge, Holcim and CEMEX, the three leading manufacturers of cement in the country, to submit their "actual cost structures to determine if there is really excessive profiteering."
Cua said the congressional investigation is also aimed at determining the actual capacity utilization of cement plants to ascertain the real domestic supply situation.
He said the three cement manufacturers, which control over 80 percent of the market, dominate the cement industry in the Philippines.
LaFarge controls 31 to 32 percent of the market. Holcim also controls 30 to 31 percent, while CEMEX has a market share of 18 to 20 percent.
"LaFarge's, Holcim's and Cemex's control of the local market can be traced to their seemingly unimpeded acquisition of or investment into Filipino
cement companies," Cua said.
Data from the Bureau of Trade Regulation and Consumer Protection (BTRCP) under the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) revealed that there had been an 84 percent increase in the price of cement from 2002 to 2007.
Cua explained that the average prevailing price of cement per 40 kg/bag in December 2007 was P175 as compared to only P95 in December 2002. The cost of cement again increased in April this year by P5 to P8 per bag due to the surging prices of fuel and petroleum products.