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 added.

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.

They said that domestic cement dispatches have declined in first six months of FY18-19 by 1.41 percent. However, surge in exports by a whopping 48.01 percent in first six months of this fiscal compared to last year increased the total depatches by 3.94 percent.

They said that exports are only a minor part of cement sales as out of total cement sales of 23.11 million tons in the first six months of this fiscal, domestic sales accounted for over 19.557 million tons. This is the reason when domestic cement despatches decline cement manufacturers, who have installed cement capacity of over 54 million tons, get very concerned as their survival is linked to domestic sales. They lamented that the decline in domestic cement consumption is more pronounced in the Northern region of the country where most of the capacities are installed. They said the increase in exports proved that the Pakistani cement industry is globally competitive and the industry can earn precious foreign exchange.