Govt probing possible cement monopoly in S’wak

23 Jun 2019 / 12:13 H.

PETALING JAYA: The government is probing the possible existence of monopoly in the cement industry in Sarawak, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng (pix) said.

He said this was in view of the “markedly higher cement prices” in the Borneo state as compared to those in Peninsular Malaysia.

“(This) should be further examined to determine whether it is caused by monopolistic practices of local industry players in Sarawak,” he said in a statement today.

Lim’s statement came just three days after Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail announced that cement prices would not be increased, following a meeting with key industry players.

Saifuddin had reminded that cement price is controlled by the government, and that action can be taken against those found guilty of increasing prices without prior approval.

This came following several reports that several cement and ready mixed concrete players had issued price increase notices by up to 40%, raising concern that it would affect prices of houses in particular.

Lim said Saifuddin’s decision to keep cement prices in check proved the government’s commitment to keep living costs at a reasonable level.

“It also alleviates fear that major cement producers in the country were abusing their market power to raise cement prices unfairly.

“Cement is a basic building material and a drastic price increase will inevitably feed into the economy negatively, and eventually hurt consumers,” he said.

Meanwhile, Lim said inflation in the country continue to remain low and stable, with the consumer price index for April 2019 showing only an increase of 0.2%, similar to previous month.

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