LAHORE - During the first half of current fiscal year, the cement industry has posted a growth of 11.07 percent in local dispatches as compared to the local dispatches during same period of last fiscal year, according to the data released by All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association (APCMA).

Exports recorded a decline of 3.53 percent compared with exports during the same period of last year. The overall situation during first half of current fiscal year showed 8.65 percent growth compared to the same period of last fiscal year. The APCMA chairman said that domestic dispatches in December 2016 were 3.186 million tons registering a growth of 6.74 percent while the exports amounted to 0.369 million tons reflecting negative growth of 18.98 percent, compared to December 2015. He said total cement dispatches in December amounted to 3.555 million tons depicting a growth of 3.33 percent and added that capacity utilisation for the month of December 2016 was 90.88 percent.

During the month of December 2016, exports to Afghanistan decreased from 0.201 million tons in December 2015 to 0.149 million tons showing a decline of 25.72 percent. However, exports to India registered healthy increase from 0.053 million tons in December last year to 0.087 million tons during the same month this year, showing growth of 63.20 percent. Exports to India are mainly through Wahga border and southern coast of India.

Saigol said that there is a strong need to cut down duties and taxes to bring down the prices and facilitate consumers which would also help industry to grow as it is playing a vital role in the development of the country. He urged the government to support the industry by placing anti-dumping duty on Iranian cement and decreasing the taxes to make it more affordable to consumers which will increase the demand of cement and result in capacity enhancement of the industry creating more job opportunities.

In last fiscal budget he added, the government increased taxes on cement from Rs600 to Rs1,000 along with sales tax of 17 percent, while industry previously paid Rs2,492 per ton. Now this difference of tax increase will augment further government revenue from Rs2,492 per ton to around Rs3,250 per ton. Industry paid approximately Rs83 billion in 2015-16 and is among the highest contributors to the national exchequer over the last four years and has paid Rs189 billion in taxes.

The APCMA chairman said cement is one of the most updated and technologically advanced industries of Pakistan that needs the government support. He said in current scenario, suggestion given by some circles of abolishing import duty will hit the national kitty and industry as well. He said Pakistan operates most efficient cement industry that has made inroads even in Indian market despite tariff and non-tariff trade barriers.