LAHORE - After witnessing a drop of almost 15 percent during last fiscal year, the cement prices have started reverting to previous level in north region amidst 20 percent Rupee depreciation, as different companies have increased prices by Rs5-10 on average. However, the prices in South region remained stable on higher side at Rs580-600/bag.

Industry sources said that hike in coal prices, rupee depreciation o f about 20 percent and strong demand due to heavy construction work in Punjab was the major factors which led to the hike in cement prices to reach Rs535-565/bag. Industry stakeholders said that additional duties in federal budgets on cement are also one of the reasons behind this hike in rates.

In retail market of Lahore, different brands of cement bags are available in the range of Rs535 to Rs565 per 50kg bag against their previous rates of Rs525 to Rs5560, showing a jump of Rs5-10 per 50kg bag on average.

Dealers said that the government had announced to increase duties in federal budgets, affecting the common man who had limited resources for house building. The industry had suggested in its budget proposal that FBR should phase out the FED to encourage cement off take.

The industry stakeholders regretted that government planners were not checking unregulated import of Iranian cement into the country on under invoiced prices. Due to this menace, Pakistan's share of exports to Afghanistan reduced. Due to the high cost of doing business, the cement industry was losing competitiveness to regional countries such as Iran, United Arab Emirates and India.

In these circumstances the cement sector and the consumer would bear the price hike, which was detrimental to lowering the usage of the product.