Lahore - The cement units in the country have achieved their highest-ever capacity utilization level of 98.61% by dispatching 3.749 million tons of cement in November 2016 against 3.377 million tons in same month of last year.

The domestic consumption of cement in November 2016 was 3.270 million tons as compared to 2.843 million tons of same month of last year.

According to data released by All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association, Cement industry despatched 16.251 million tons of cement during the first five months of this fiscal which is 9.89 percent higher than 14.788 million tons cement despatched during the corresponding period of last fiscal. 

During the first five months of the current fiscal, domestic despatches were 13.709 million tons which is 12.13 percent higher than the domestic despatches of cement in the same period last year. Export despatches during the first five months of current fiscal were 2.542 million tons, a decline of 0.79 percent compared to the same period of last year.

The cement mills located in the northern part of the country despatched 11.305 million tons for domestic consumption and 1.702 million tons for export reflecting a growth of 11.05 percent and 4.30 percent respectively. The cement mills based in the southern part of the country despatched 2.404 million tons of cement for domestic use and 0.839 million tons for export reflecting a growth of 17.49 percent and decline of 9.72 percent respectively.

The industry has been observing a decline in the exports since the beginning of this fiscal year and the worst of that is seen in November this year where total export despatches were 0.479 million tons which is 10.35 percent lower than 0.534 in November 2015. 

APCMA spokesperson has pointed out that exports are likely to remain under pressure as Afghan market is penetrated by Iran and export by sea is on the decline where as exports to India have a positive trend. However, he expressed satisfaction at the continued growth in domestic cement despatches. He said that even the crisis in the property sector has not impacted construction activities. The huge infrastructure projects undertaken by both Federal and Provincial governments is icing on the cake. He said consumption of cement has increased across the board more so in South where the general perception is that the activities are slow.

He said that coal is a widely used fuel in the production of cement and its increasing prices during last few months has a significant impact on input cost whereas recent increase in the oil prices has further increased the cost of cement production.

He urged the government to support the industry by cutting the taxes which will decrease the cement prices as well as increase the demand of cement and result in capacity enhancement of the industry creating more job opportunities.