KARACHI - Local cement sales during the first four months (July-October) of fiscal year-2009 depicted a fall of 15 per cent to stand at 6.3 million tons. On the contrary, exports continued with their robust growth of 72 per cent and breached the 2 million tons mark mainly owing to the cement shortage in the region. Hence, overall cement sales were up just 3 per cent to 9.8 million tons, The Nation learnt. Analysts held a view that uncertain political and weak economic conditions continue to hamper infrastructure as well as private sector development projects in the country resulted in local cement sales to face the brunt. Moreover, holidays on account of Eid at the start of the month also hampered local sales in October. On the export front however, demand from Middle East and African countries remain buoyant increasing export sales for the local cement industry. As a result, the share of exports in total sales rose to 36 per cent in first four months of FY09 as against 27% in the corresponding period last year. Similarly, alone in October 2008, local sales fell by 15 per cent on Year on Year basis. While exports increased 114 per cent YoY resulting in an overall sales increase of 12 per cent. Another analyst said that the main reason attributable to the decline was decreasing domestic dispatches mainly on account of worsening law and order situation in the country. At the same time bagged cement prices were at its all time high level during the period under consideration resulting in decreased local demand of cement. However, export of cement continued to show positive momentum, as export figures inflated by over 42 percent in said period, analysts said, adding that at the same time cement companies continue to benefit from exporting cement and clinker to the neighboring countries and Middle East region. The analyst said the inflationary pressures in the economy have substantially increased cost of construction which might result in a fall in demand for cement. While, due to fiscal imbalances, the utilization of Public Sector Development Program will be low and it could result in lower infrastructure spending in current fiscal, analysts said, adding the increase in cement prices on account of rising cost of production will also hamper the cement demand in the country.