LAHORE   -  The cement manufacturers have urged the government to support the industry by reducing taxes and placing anti-dumping duty on Iranian cement to make it more affordable for consumers.

In this way, the product’s demand will be increased, resulting in capacity enhancement of the industry besides generating job opportunities.

The industry stakeholders said that Pakistan has the most efficient cement industry that has made inroads even into the Indian market despite tariff and non-tariff trade barriers. If the government is interested in reducing the cement rates then it should reduce the levies on domestic production, they proposed.

According to the data of the All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers’ Association, the domestic sales fell 8.80 percent in the north zone and 10.91 percent in the south zone while exports from the north also declined 29.66 percent.

Industry experts said this abrupt decline in domestic cement uptake has taken the cement manufacturers by surprise, expressing hope that this was a one off decline and the growth would gather pace in coming months. The industry was rightly worried because they have made tremendous investment to increase capacity that has now crossed 50 million tons a year. This expansion was made on the assumption that construction activities would continue to grow at a rapid pace in the long-term. In July 2018, the overall growth in the industry was 5.1 percent, while in August 2018 the overall growth was negative 8 percent.

Industry stakeholders pointed out the need for cutting down duties and taxes to bring down the prices and facilitate consumers. They opined that this would also help industry to grow as it was playing a vital role in the development of the country.