Lahore -  The cement industry is expanding its capacity by over 26 million tonnes per annum in order to meet the massive demand taking place in the country due to various government and CPEC projects.

The industry experts said that it would be illogical for the government to allow import of cement or abolish import duty, as it would not only deprive the government of revenue earned through import duty but also devastate the whole industry expansion plan.

They said that the cement industry had emerged as the highest contributors to the national exchequer over the last few years.

The contribution has more than doubled from 39 billion rupees in 2012-13 to 83 billion rupees in 2015-16.

In the last fiscal budget, the government increased Federal Excise Duty on cement from Rs400 per ton to Rs1,000 per ton along with general sales tax of 17 percent. Industry paid Rs. 2,492 per ton to the national kitty till June 2016. For the year 2016-2017 the government revenue in shape of duties and taxes will increase further from Rs. 2,492 per ton to around Rs. 3,400 per ton i.e. Rs. 170 per bag.

Industry stakeholders urged the government to take effective steps in order to stop penetration of Iranian cement in Pakistani markets on the strength of massive under invoicing and or misdeclaration.

A proper vigilance and accountability system needs to be put in place to stop cement smuggling into the country. Government should also increase Regulatory Duty for import of cement in addition to custom duty in order to protect the local industry.

They also expressed concerns over falling exports to Afghanistan that have declined in the first seven months of this fiscal by 10.88 percent. Export by sea also declined by 19.23 percent during first seven months of current fiscal.

The factors contributing to decline in exports include increase in fuel prices and other input cost, and the most damaging was the barriers erected by the countries we export to, such as anti-dumping duty imposed by South Africa to protect its local industry.