By Elinando B. Cinco
Whoever put together DAO 17-02/05 of the Department of Trade did not give any weight to the “Build” agenda of President Duterte. It is a patent disregard of the basic foundation of this administration’s major program.
Observers claim it may even run counter to the P8 trillion-funded mixed infrastructures program designed to culminate in 2022.
In what way?
You see, the DTI administrative order may trigger a cement shortage and cause prices of the product to skyrocket, like no other.
As analyzed by neutral observers, the DAO directive would drive out of the local cement market pure importers by making it virtually impossible for them to import because of a burdensome requirement to first secure Import Clearance Certificates (ICCs).
The ICC requirement to pure importers is puzzling because the same is not required of cement manufacturers-importers even if the two groups buy their cement abroad from the same sources and thus the imported cement are of the same quality.
The ICC requirement is also irrelevant because all imported cement are vetted as to quality by the international body that stamps them with the PS (Product Safety) mark.
Cement prices hover at P197 a bag at present because of the healthy cement supply and competitive prices provided by pure importers, to meet the Philippine annual demand of about 720 million bags per year.
Without the steady presence of the pure importers, cement prices would shoot up to P300-plus per baglike as in 2015 when manufacturers-importers had their field day.
But with Build, Build, Build under Dutertenomics requiring millions of cement bags to build schools, hospitals, air and sea ports, roads, rails, and bridges, DAO 17-02/05 is seen to tighten cement supply.
With cement prices going sky high due to DAO 17-02/05, Dutertenomics may grind to a screeching halt and with it the hundreds of thousands of jobs which the government wants to create in the construction sector, in the first place.
Whoever put together DAO 17-02/05 must be sent packing out of government service and his DAO thrown into the waste basket for ignoring President Duterte’s admonition against bureaucratic red tape and other irregular practices.
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