In­dus­try group calls on DTI to tighten test­ing of steel, ce­ment

Manila Bulletin - - Business News -

The Fed­er­a­tion of Philip­pine In­dus­tries (FPI) has called on the Depart­ment of Trade and In­dus­try (DTI) to test all the im­ported steel and ce­ment ship­ments en­ter­ing the coun­try.

In a let­ter sent to the Depart­ment of Trade and In­dus­try (DTI), FPI Chair­man Je­sus Lim Ar­ranza ex­pressed con­cern re­gard­ing nu­mer­ous re­ports of sub­stan­dard steel and ce­ment en­ter­ing the Philip­pine mar­ket. Ar­ranza called on the agency to tighten con­trols for spe­cific construction ma­te­ri­als that are widely used in in­fra­struc­ture and home-build­ing, and cru­cial to pub­lic safety.

Ar­ranza called on the Trade Depart­ment to strengthen rules on post-ship­ment in­spec­tion of im­ported steel and ce­ment amidst a se­ries of com­plaints re­gard­ing un­cer­ti­fied and sub­stan­dard steel bars, and mis­la­beled and “ex­pired” ce­ment sold in re­tail out­lets in Lu­zon and the Visayas. One doc­u­mented in­stance even showed 300,000 ex­pired bags and yet got dis­trib­uted to dif­fer­ent parts of the Philip­pines. In an­other, a to­tal of 56 hard­ware stores in Pan­gasi­nan and La Union were found to be sell­ing not only sub­stan­dard steel but also other un­cer­ti­fied construction and elec­tri­cal prod­ucts.

Ar­ranza ex­pressed con­cern that peo­ple will be put at risk if the DTI al­lows untested steel and ce­ment to be sold in the mar­ket. “One of our mem­bers, the Ce­ment Man­u­fac­tur­ers As­so­ci­a­tion of the Philip­pines (CEMAP) is specif­i­cally con­cerned about 2 re­ported DTI draft or­ders al­low­ing ce­ment to be re­leased even be­fore the safety test­ing is com­pleted. A draft pro­vi­sion that re­call or­ders will be made for un­safe steel and ce­ment is not rea­son­able be­cause th­ese will al­ready be widely dis­trib­uted and be part of houses and build­ings," and the Fed­er­a­tion shared with them their con­cern on the safety of the con­sum­ing pub­lic, he said.

The FPI Chair also ex­pressed ap­pre­hen­sion on re­ly­ing com­pletely on pre-ship­ment in­spec­tion us­ing third­party pri­vate sec­tor groups which will in ef­fect shows that we do not rely our peo­ple. Ver­ily, there are qual­i­fied and com­pe­tent per­son­nel in the DTI that can con­duct the nec­es­sary post­ship­ment in­spec­tion. “In­deed it is the DTI’s re­spon­si­bil­ity to make sure that the prod­ucts com­ing in fol­low qual­ity and safety stan­dards strictly.”

“With the ex­pected build­ing boom, we should be mak­ing sure that all the ma­te­ri­als com­ing in fol­low lo­cal reg­u­la­tions. Loos­en­ing reg­u­la­tions is tan­ta­mount to risk­ing the pub­lic’s safety."

Ar­ranza en­cour­aged steel and ce­ment im­porters to ask the Trade Depart­ment for the list of com­plaints filed by con­sumer and trade groups so that “they can ver­ify for it­self which com­pa­nies are the ones in­volved in the im­por­ta­tion of the re­ported sub­stan­dard prod­ucts.” (BCM)

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