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