LAHORE - The cement industry is performing in stiff regulatory environment and is only surviving because it has upgraded its technology, providing it the strength to take any challenge.

The industry stakeholders said, “Our quality is the best in the region and our efficiency is second to none. No cement could compete with Pakistani cement if imported at real and fair value after paying all government levies. However, weak border controls and lax customs vigilance allow entry of cement from across our borders at unfair valuations hurting the local cement industry.”

They said that the government should lower excise duty on the sector to further boost demand. Similarly, import duty on coal imported by the sector should be brought at par with other sectors. The industry representatives said that the exports still remain below par and they have been pointing out the reasons for decline in exports that is worrisome as the industry still has idle capacity. They said that almost all decline in exports is via sea. Exports to India are also affected but not to that extent, they added.

According to them, the cement demand in the North Zone remained surprisingly very high as the consumption in the region stood at 3.148 million tons during October 2017. Due to robust growth in local consumption in the first four months of this fiscal, the industry utilised over 93 percent of its installed capacity. This is the highest capacity utilisation by the industry in last 20 years. However, 1.08 million tons capacity still remained idle that could have been covered by exports if the government policies are export friendly.