Lahore: - Cement dispatches to domestic markets during June 2016 increased by 9.2 percent to reach 2.96 million tonnes, compared to 2.71 million tonnes during the same month last year.

According to the data released by All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association, during the fiscal year 2015-16, cement industry despatched 33 million tonnes to local markets, posting a robust growth of 17.01 percent compared with local dispatches during the same period last fiscal year that were 28.2 million tonnes. The comparatively lower growth in June 2016 was mainly due to the holy month of Ramazan as construction activities slowdown in this month.

Exports during June 2016 were 387,060 tonnes against 552,867 tonnes during June 2015. Total despatches during June, 2016 were 3.35 million tonnes compared to 3.26 million tonnes during the same month last year, showing a marginal increase of 2.57 percent, mainly affected due to substantial downfall in exports. Exports from the country massively declined by 18.38 percent to 5.87 million tonnes compared with exports during the last fiscal year that were 7.2 million tonnes. Exports to India increased by 42.53 percent to 992,631 tonnes during the fiscal year 2015-16 against 696,417 tonnes during the last fiscal year.

However, the decline in exports to Afghanistan by 15.1 percent and via sea to other countries by 32.68 percent affected the overall exports of the country.

Instable situation in Afghanistan and influx of Iranian Cement limited exports to 2.44 million tonnes during the fiscal year 2015-16 compared to 2.87 million tonnes during the last fiscal year.

Likewise, increased competition on global level coupled with economic slowdown in countries where Pakistan has been exporting reduced the country’s exports by sea to 2.44 Million Tons during fiscal year 15~16 compared to 3.62 Million Tons during last fiscal.

Total despatches during fiscal year 2015-16 showed a growth of 9.82 % compared to last fiscal year as the volume increased to 38.87 Million Tons against 35.34 Million Tons from July 14 to June, 2015. Cement sector closed the financial year 2015-16 on a positive note. The only sour point was the additional tax imposed in budget 2016-17 that increased the cement price by Rs. 35 per bag.

Industry circles fear that additional excise duty imposed in federal budget 2016-17 might dampen the construction activities. They said that there was no need to increase the tax as cement is already the most heavily taxed commodity in Pakistan. They apprehended that Iranian cement might make further inroads in Pakistani markets in view of lax border checks on smuggling and highly liberal attitude of authorities on under invoicing. Cement industry lost approx. 1 million tons of volume due to smuggled Irani cement coming into Baluchistan and other coastal areas. This trend is going up despite several letters and newspapers coverage on this matter but no positive step to curb the smuggling issue has been taken by the government.

A spokesman of APCMA said that sharp decline in cement exports should be an eye opener for the policy makers of the country. APCMA’s spokesperson appealed the government to support local manufacturers in winning back their markets by giving freight/ transportation subsidy enabling them to compete on global level.

our staff reporter