ISLAMABAD: The All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association (APCMA) has decried a raid on its office by the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) and termed it an act of harassment and intimidation.
A CCP team had raided the office of APCMA on Sept 24. The APCMA said in a statement that such actions would only damage the atmosphere of investment revival that the government was striving to create.
Personal property, including mobile telephones, of members of the staff present at the APCMA office and the office of a mill member were seized without lawful authority and in violation of guarantees of privacy and dignity promised to every individual by the Constitution, it said.
CCP claims to have found valuable information during action
It was apprehended that the items “unlawfully appropriated” would be tampered with or used selectively, and out of context, to malign chosen individuals or companies, the statement said.
It said that the APCMA and its members had regularly provided to the CCP information required by it.
The association said that such raids were a matter of concern not only for the cement industry but for all businesses in the country.
The raid was carried out because of an increase in the market price of cement since April though the cost of some items such as fuel had fallen since then. The belief that market price of cement or any other item was linked to production cost through a simple cost-plus formula betrayed lack of understanding of market dynamics and market determination of price, the statement said.
The APCMA further explained that the market price was 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 could not exhibit a significant difference in price across various brands, it said, adding that this basic fact had also been ignored by the CCP.
Responding to the concern voiced by the APCMA, the CCP spokesperson said that valuable information had been received and recovered from the material obtained from the association’s office.
The spokesperson said that the information would be shared with the relevant authorities and general public after the ongoing inquiry was concluded, adding that there was no forced entry into the association office and all inventories were signed by APCMA office-bearers.
“The interest of consumers and safeguard to the laws was above the interest of any industry or sector,” the spokesperson said. “Cartelisation is the supreme evil in business and investment climate, therefore the policy of CCP is to have zero tolerance over cartels.”
Published in Dawn, September 27th, 2020