LAHORE-Cement despatches in August 2020 have increased by 5.04 percent from 3.351 million tons in August 2019 to 3.520 million tons. However, they were much less than the despatches of 4.838 million tons in July 2020.

According to the data released by APCMA, the local uptake of cement in August 2020 increased by 4.84 percent to 2.794 million tons from 2.665 million tons in August 2019 while exports registered increase of 5.82 percent, increasing to 0.725 million tons from 0.685 million tons in same month last year.

The North based mills despatched 2.493 million tons of cement in the domestic market as compared to 2.347 million tons in August 2019, registering an increase of 6.26 percent. Exports from North were 0.211 million tons, 8.45 percent higher than the exports of 0.195 million tons exports made during the same month last year.

The South based mills continued declining trends in the domestic market and despatched only 0.301 million tons cement in August 2020, 5.6 percent less compared to 0.319 million tons in August 2019. Exports from South increased to 0.515 million tons in August 2020 from 0.491 million tons in last year August, depicting an increase of 4.78 percent only.

Overall despatches during the first two months of this fiscal have increased by 21.78 percent from 6.863 million tons in August 2019 to 8.358 million tons in August 2020. Domestic despatches stood at 6.747 million tons in Jul-Aug 2020, an increase of 19.53 percent from 5.644 million tons during the same period last year. Exports during the period under review registered an increase of 32.20 percent, increasing to 1.611 million tons from 1.218 million tons in Jul-Aug 2019.

The spokesman of APCMA expressed concern that the jump in cement sales in July looks like a one-off phenomenon. “The industry was expecting that the momentum witnessed in July would continue but an appreciable decline in domestic uptake and exports was disappointing,” he added. The decline was mainly due to heavy rains, Eid ul Azha and Ashura holidays.

He said that the industry is unable to understand that the impact of the construction package has not been felt in the South. Moreover, he added that the normal growth of 6.26 percent in domestic sales in the North suggests that the impact of the construction package was not visible here in August.

He appealed the government to minimize duties and taxes on cement sector in order to increase cement consumption.

He also wondered why the cement sector and captive power were excluded from subsidized power and gas that is available to five exporting sectors. He said that cement is an energy intensive sector and availability of power at concessional rates would boost the exports appreciably.