LAHORE - With fifteen days of fasting falling in May, cement consumption was slightly affected as domestic dispatches posted modest growth of 2.40 percent, lowest this fiscal.

Traditionally construction activities slowdown in Ramadan and even a modest growth in May indicates that the buoyancy in the sector is still there.

According to latest data, in May 2018, the industry dispatched 3.919 million tons of cement against 3.708 million tons dispatched in May 2017. In May 2018, the domestic cement dispatches in the northern region were 2.812 million tons against 2.811 in May 2017 whereas, dispatches in the southern region amounted to 0.669 million tons in May 2018 against 0.588 million tons in the same month last year. Exports from north were 0.224 million tons last month against 0.219 million tons in May 2017. Exports from the south stood at 0.215 million tons in May 2018 against 0.090 million tons in May last year.

Total cement dispatches in the first 11 months of this fiscal have been the highest ever in history as cement industry dispatched 42.915 million tons during July-May 2017-18 period against 37.588 million tons during the corresponding period last year. The sector grew by a healthy 14.17 percent in the first 11 months of this fiscal. Capacity utilisation in the first 11 months of this fiscal was 94.69 percent.

Domestic consumption in the northern parts of the country stood at 31.811 million tons showing a growth of 16.76 percent over the corresponding period of last fiscal. The cement plants in the south dispatched 6.755 million tons of cement, posting a growth rate of 12.12pc. Total exports in 11 months increased to 4.348 million tons, posting a modest growth of 0.69pc as exports surged after devaluation of the rupee in the last few months.

Spokesman of APCMA expressed hope that local cement consumption will once again rise after Ramazan while continuous increase in exports is a welcome sign for the industry. APCMA urged the government to withdraw the recent increase in federal excise duty (FED) which will hurt local consumption.

“We have been demanding for years to abolish the FED as cement is not a luxury item, use of which should be encouraged,” the spokesman added. “Reducing FED to “zero” will give rise to construction activities which has a positive effect on multiple industries and thousands of job opportunities will be created with increase in construction,” he concluded.