LAHORE             -           After posting decrease for three consecutive months, cement dispatches increased by 29.94 per cent in June 2020 to 4.623 million tonnes from 3.557 million tonnes in June 2019, ending the fiscal year 2019-20 on a positive note. According to the data released by All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association (APCMA), the domestic cement uptake increased by a massive 19.63 per cent to 3.835 million tonnes in June 2020 from 3.206 million tonnes in June 2019. Moreover, exports also increased by 123.89 per cent from 0.351 million tonnes in June 2019 to 0.787 million tonnes in June 2020.

The domestic cement consumption in the North was 3.384 million tonnes in June 2020 against 2.750 million tonnes in June 2019, however, exports from North declined to 46,025 tonnes this June compared with 0.145 million tonnes last June. The scenario was opposite in the South where domestic consumption declined to 0.451 million tonnes from 0.455 million tonnes in June 2019, but exports increased from 0.206 million tonnes in June 2019 to 0.742 million tonnes in June 2020.

Overall the cement consumption during July-Jun 2019-20 inched up by 1.98 per cent to 47.81 million tonnes solely on the strength of higher export growth of 19.8 per cent that crossed 7 million tonnes mark after a long time.  The domestic consumption however contracted by almost one per cent, the first such decline in the last six years.

The performance of cement units in different zones depicted the strength of the south zone in exports and the north zone in local consumption. In fiscal 2019-20 the mills in North Zone despatched 34.327 million of cement to the local market that grew by 6.07 per cent over the consumption in the previous fiscal. However it lost 22 per cent of the export market by exporting only 1.97 million tonnes of cement. The region lost Indian market due to protective policies of Indian government and Afghan market due to decline in construction activities in the land locked country.

In South zone the mills were badly hit by low consumption in the region as their dispatches declined by 29.37 per cent to only 5.637 million tonnes. However its exports registered a healthy increase 46.47 per cent as it exported 5.877 million tonnes of cement in 2019-20. In fact the cement exports were higher than the local consumption perhaps for the first time in history.

“The higher uptake in June has provided a hope that the new fiscal year would be better as a result of the incentives provided to the construction sector,” said a spokesman of APCMA. He appreciated the reduction in excise duty on cement but has asked for complete withdrawal of excise on the commodity as excise is a punitive duty imposed to curb the use of harmful items. Cement, he reminded, is the backbone of the construction industry that this government wants to promote.