LAHORE: The All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association (APCMA) on Saturday condemned the entirely unwarranted operation carried out at the offices of APCMA and a member of APCMA as well as the ensuing harassment and intimidation of its officers and staff by the staff of the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) on Thursday, September 24.
“The CCP team’s forcible entry and the subsequent action can only serve to damage the atmosphere of investment revival and growth that the present government has striven hard to create,” the association said in a statement.
According to the details, personal property, including mobile telephones, of the members of the staff present at the APCMA office and at the office of a member mill were appropriated without lawful authority and in violation of guarantees of privacy and dignity assured to every individual by the constitution of Pakistan.
“It is apprehended that the items unlawfully appropriated will be tampered with or used selectively, out of context, to malign chosen individuals or companies,” the statement said.
Further, the statement added that the APCMA and its member have regularly provided to the CCP all information that has been required by the CCP. The stated basis of the unwarranted operation on 24.09.2020 is a matter of utmost concern, not only for the cement industry but for all businesses in the country.
It has been stated that the action of September 24 was carried out because of an increase in the market price of cement since April 2020, even though the cost of some items such as fuel has fallen since then.
The premise that the market price of cement or any other item is linked to the cost of production through some simple cost-plus formula betrays a complete lack of understanding of market dynamics and the market determination of price.
The market price is determined by the forces of supply and demand and not by variations in the cost of production alone. Cement produced by different manufacturers being a largely homogeneous commodity cannot exhibit a significant difference in price across the various brands. This basic fact has also been lost sight of by the CCP.
The cement industry of Pakistan has made large investments into plant expansion and modernization over the last five years. This has led to the cement industry being in a position to play a dynamic role in public interest infrastructure projects, such as the Basha and Mohmand Dams, as well as the revival of the construction sector in general.
The action taken by the CCP on September 24 and the threat posed to cement manufacturers of continuing witch-hunts and fishing inquiries is inconsistent with the effort by the Government of Pakistan to create an atmosphere conducive to investment and growth.