The construction sector is one of the most deeply impacted industries in the Philippines. The pandemic lockdown directly reduced construction activities in the country as workers were unable to report to work sites amid the restrictions that hampered mobility and travel.
The construction industry suffered the brunt of the pandemic. It was one of the biggest contributors to the decline of the economy in 2020. Construction activities shrank 25.3 percent last year. The slump meant more workers were unemployed and directly led to reduced household spending.
The sector, thus, needs all the support it can get from the government. But latest regulations from the Department of Trade and Industry are not helping the industry.
Roll formers and roofing manufacturers are not in favor of the latest technical regulation recently issued by the Bureau of Philippine Standards and the Department of Industry. A department’s administrative order (DAO) is mandating the product certification of raw materials used for roofing and general applications effective on January 13, 2021.
Makers and importers of roofing items in the country say the order will result in the undersupply of materials needed to complete housing projects and key government infrastructure projects. The DAO covers hot-tip metallic coated and pre-painted galvanized steel coils and sheets for roofs and general applications.
The DTI defended the order, saying it aims to strictly ensure that hot-dip metallic-coated and pre-painted galvanized steel coils and sheets for roofing and general applications to be manufactured, imported, sold or distributed in the Philippines, meet the specified quality requirements.
The DAO covers the following technical regulations: PNS 1990-2004: Hot-dip Zinc-coated carbon steel coils and sheets: PNS 2003-2004: Continuous Hot-dip Zinc-5% Aluminum alloy coated steel coils and sheets; PNS 1993-2004: Continuous hot-dip aluminum/zinc-coated steel sheet of commercial, drawing and structural qualities; and PNS 201 1990: Pre-painted galvanized steel coils and sheets.
Makers and importers of roofing materials are puzzled over DTI’s rush to implement the DAO. They fear the regulation will create market distortions resulting in supply shortage and an increase in the prices of steel sheets and coils.
Representatives of the steel industry immediately appealed to the DTI and sought ample time to adjust and conform to the new requirements and standards, as well as dispose all incoming steel coils and sheets. Local manufacturers have either booked or ordered steel coils and sheets for roofing prior to the effectivity of DAO 20-10, Series of 2020.
The industry added that shipments due to arrive between January and April 2021 would not meet the minimum total coated thickness of 0.4 mm and coating mass requirements as indicated in the new order since they use PNS 67:2014 as reference standard.
The DTI eventually granted the steel industry’s appeal to provide them enough time to comply with the new technical regulation. But the department issued additional provisions requiring importers of roofing materials to submit loads of documents and certification before the release of the shipments.
The new requirements are odd. The incoming shipments have already followed the legal importation process.
Importers of roofing materials are now being required in all to submit 24 documents to have their shipments released, a clear sign of red tape in the BPS and DTI.
Metal roofing, or “yero” in the vernacular, is the most popular option for residential roofs in the country. The life expectancy of metal roofing is more than thrice the durability of asphalt shingles.
The new DTI DAO adds to the prevailing high cost of raw materials, including the price of yero.
The regulation compromises the quality of roofing materials which should be thinner and yet sold at a high price, which poor families could not afford to buy, especially amid this pandemic.
The DTI, it seems, is being unreasonable in imposing new technical regulations that hamper socio-economic progress.
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