LAHORE            -         The All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association has suggested the government to announce replacing bricks with cement concrete blocks to resolve smog problem, which was currently enveloping central Punjab and had forced the government to close brick kilns.

According to a press release issued here on Saturday, the APCMA said that the cement industry is sitting on an unutilised production capacity as it managed to sell 46.88 million tons last year against total installed capacity of 59.65 million tons and the wide use of cement concrete blocks to also help enhance cement consumption.

The industry experts anticipated that total cement demand would reach 49.11 million tons this year. This meant 10.54 million tons of capacity will remain unutilised.

They asked the government to start work on the announced housing projects as it will positively impact the demand for construction material including cement and will also create jobs for the skilled and unskilled labour.

According to the data, domestic cement sales stood at 16.85 million tons in first five months of the current fiscal year (July-November), posting just 2% growth year-on-year while overall cement sales in the Jul-Nov period rose 5.76% to 20.46 million tons compared to the same period of previous year. Domestic consumption in the northern region came in at 14.43 million tons, 11.32% higher than last year.

On the other hand, the southern region depicted a completely different picture where domestic cement sales fell 29% to 2.42 million. In November 2019, cement sales in the domestic market grew 5.11% to 3.54 million tons on a year-on-year basis while exports soared 43.53% to 0.81 million tons. Cumulatively, cement sales grew 10.61% to 4.35 million tons. Cement mills based in northern part of the country sold 3.24 million tons while those in the south supplied 1.11 million tons of clinker and cement. Domestic consumption in the north was calculated at 2.98 million tons in November while in the southern region, the domestic consumption was recorded at 0.56 million tons.