CAP calls for freeze on cement price

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PENANG (June 18): The Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry (KPDNHEP) should put an immediate freeze on the price of cement as it is a scheduled controlled item, says the Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP).

CAP was responding to recent news reports stating that suppliers have issued circulars to notify customers about upward adjustments in cement price of as high as 50%.

“According to a report, a cement supplier had increased the price to RM40 from RM20 per cubic metre since 15th June 2019,” CAP Acting President Mohideen Abdul Kader said in a press statement today.

“The Ministry [KPDNHEP] should take stern action against those who have already hiked the price prior to approval because cement is a price controlled item,” he stressed.

He pointed out that cement is listed as “scheduled control goods” in KPDNHEP’s website dated 2019.

According to a 2008 news report, the then Minister of Works Datuk Seri Mohd Zin Mohamed said the government may introduce a mechanism to ensure that steel bars and cement supplied to contractors are at reasonable prices.

“Does this mean that the previous government had liberalised it 10 years ago?” Mohideen questioned.

Commenting on reports stating that a company is currently dominating 85% of the local cement market, Mohideen urged the Malaysian Competition Commission (MyCC) to investigate whether the cement players had violated the Competition Act.

“Never had cement prices skyrocketed so abruptly and had the government been informed of this move?

“We reiterate our call for KPDNHEP and MyCC to investigate if the industry had violated any of the acts and, in the meantime, freeze the price increase,” he said.

To recap, KPDNHEP Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said yesterday that the ministry’s enforcement division will issue an immediate notice to the 19 cement producing factories in Malaysia for clarification over the cement price hikes.

The notice will be issued under Section 21 of the Price Control and Anti-Profiteering Act 2011. “This notice must be answered within seven days from the date of its issuance and failure to respond within such time shall invite lawful action under the same Act,” Saifuddin said.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said he will meet with Saifuddin to discuss the cement price increase. Lim added that he had received complaints from several developers on the matter.