PENANG: The Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry is proposing ceiling on prices for steel and cement be abolished to encourage local industry players to be more competitive.
Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said his ministry would submit a proposal to the Cabinet next week for a decision, adding that the move included lifting import controls on the products, which were highly essential to the construction industry.
He said it was time for market forces to determine the prices of the products, in view of the Asean Free Trade Area (Afta) implementation and globalisation policies.
We will also suggest to the International Trade and Industry Ministry to lift the import controls since there will no longer be a price cap on them, he said after a dialogue with northern region businessmen from the private sector at a hotel here yesterday.
At present, the retail price for a round bar of mild steel has been fixed at RM1,085 per metric tonne and cement at RM10.20 per 50kg bag.
Muhyiddin said in the past the Government determined the prices of the particular products to ensure profiteers did not inflate prices.
We used to have discussions with industry players to set the prices after taking into account their production costs and profit margins.
But we now wish to review this, especially in light of the Afta implementation. Our steel and cement producers also feel that they are ready to compete with their counterparts in other Asean countries to remain competitive, he said.
Muhyiddin added that local suppliers had given their assurance there was adequate supply of steel, aluminium and cement to meet the needs of the construction industry.
They have also given their word not to increase prices indiscriminately, he said.