Federal leaders to look into cement price rise

YTL Cement is reported to have obtained a 77% stake in cement manufacturer Lafarge Malaysia. (Facebook pic)

PETALING JAYA: Federal government leaders are looking into complaints that cement prices are being raised.

Talks with the cement industry are to be held next week, domestic trade minister Saifuddin Nasution was reported to have said today, while finance minister Lim Guan Eng said he would have discussions with Saifuddin next week about the price increase.

Saifuddin said no price increase had been approved by his ministry and any decision on prices would only be made after the meeting, Malaysiakini reported.

In George Town, Lim told Bernama that he had received complaints from several developers about the proposed increases, which would affect housing and road projects.

On Friday, The Edge said a local cement company had reportedly stated that prices of cement and ready-mixed concrete would be going up, while Lim said today that construction companies had complained that prices would be raised by 40%-50% between June 15 and July 1.

Last night, MCA president Wee Ka Siong said the Pakatan Harapan government must take responsibility if it could not halt the price rise.

Calling it a “drastic increase”, he said public and private contractors tied to fixed-price contracts faced the risk of bankruptcy and major losses, while Malaysian citizens would face a rise in the cost of living.

The government’s affordable housing projects would be affected.

Wee questioned whether the takeover of cement manufacturer Lafarge Malaysia by YTL Cement had led to the proposed increase. On Friday, YTL Cement was reported to have increased its stake in Lafarge from 51% to 77% at the close of a mandatory takeover offer.

Wee said: “If the price rises are due to hidden hands to gain a monopoly, the Harapan government must enforce the Competition Act 2010 which was introduced by the previous BN government to stop or limit the unreasonable price hike.”