LAHORE - The cement sector is experiencing dream growth particularly in the domestic market for the last three years, as the industry has registered an overall growth of 14.30 percent during first eight months period (July-Feb) of the current fiscal year.

According to the latest data released by All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association (APCMA) on Friday, the total cement despatches in the first eight months of this fiscal stood at 30.106 million tons compared with despatches of 26.339 million tons during the corresponding period of last year. This is an increase of almost 4 million tons in eight months. The data shows that the cement despatched crossed volume of 4 million tons in two months of Jan and Feb 2018.

The total cement despatches were recorded as 3.781 million tons in Feb 2018. Out of this, despatches in the North were 3.052 million tons while cement despatches in Southern part amounted to 0.729 million tons. The exports from North based mills amounted to 0.181 million tons and from South based mills was 0.120 million tons. The capacity utilization in the first eight months of this fiscal was 91.34 percent of the total installed capacity of the cement sector.

The spokesman for APCMA said that cement industry is among the highest contributors to the national exchequer over the last few years.

The contribution has increased to Rs117 billion in 2016-17 from Rs39 billion in 2012-13. Attributing domestic growth in the sector to the policies of the government and its thrust on mega infrastructure projects, he said that the local production could increase substantially if the smuggling of this commodity from Iranian border is checked.

Moreover, he appealed to the government to eliminate the mafia that is bringing in Iranian cement at engineered low rates to save government levies including sales tax.

“Iranian cement would not be able to stand against Pakistani cement in quality and price if the import rules are strictly followed. Customs duty on import of both clinker and cement should increase to a uniform rate of 35percent in order to support the local cement industry. Moreover, import of cement should not be allowed until Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority certifies the quality of cement being imported into the Country,” he added.