LAHORE - The cement capacity utilisation in August 2017 was more than 96 percent as the domestic cement dispatches are constantly increasing which is a good sign, indicating that the economy is in good shape.

According to the data, in the first two months of this fiscal, the industry dispatched 7.148 million tons cement, showing an overall growth of 20.81 percent over the corresponding period of last fiscal. During this period, the domestic consumption increased by 27.95 percent but exports declined by 13.39 percent. It is worth noting that the domestic cement consumption during July-August of this fiscal increased by 28.51 percent in the North and by 25.41 percent in the Southern part of the country. In contrast, the exports from North declined by only 2.47 percent compared with a decline of 25.41 percent in the South. This should be a matter of concern for the authorities because in the past the South based mills being nearer to sea were leading cement exporters. In August 2017, the domestic cement dispatches in the Northern region was 2.731 million tons against dispatches of 2.495 in August 2016 whereas the dispatches in the Southern region was 0.625 million tons in August 2017 against dispatches of 0.532 million tons in same month last year. Exports from North were 0.307 million tons last month against 0.355 million tons in August 2016. The exports from the South stood at 0.103 million tons in August 2017 against exports of 0.203 million tons in August last year. The industry stakeholders pointed out that constant decline in cement exports is a source of concern, saying the decline in exports is in line with the overall decline in non-textile exports which indicates non-competitiveness of our manufacturing sector.