LAHORE -  The cement despatches during the first nine months of this fiscal stood at 30.304 million tons. The figure could have been much higher had the smuggling and under invoicing of cement been curbed. The statistics released by APCMA reveal that in March 2017 the industry despatched 3.96 million tons of cement against 3.58 million tons of corresponding month of last year.

In the first nine month of this fiscal, the industry despatched 30.304 million tons cement, showing an overall growth of 6.90 percent over the corresponding period of last fiscal. During this period, the domestic consumption increased by 10.90 percent but exports declined by 14.83 percent. It is worth noting that the domestic cement consumption during July-March period of this fiscal increased by 10.26 percent in the North and by 13.81 percent in the Southern part of the country.

In contrast, the exports from North declined by only 10.07 percent compared with a decline of 13.81 percent in the South. This should be a matter of concern for the authorities because in the past the South-based mills being nearer to sea were leading cement exporters. The capacity utilisation during first nine months of current fiscal is 87.1 percent.

The APCMA spokesman said that the domestic producers are coping with the challenges of unethical exports on the strength of their excellent quality. He said substandard cement created distraction but could not suppress the demand of high quality Pakistani cement. The domestic despatches in March 2017 were 23 percent higher than the despatches in March 2016.

The exports in contrast declined by a whopping 60.39 percent. This massive decline in exports reduced the despatches growth in March 2017 to only 10.63 percent. In the first nine months of this fiscal the domestic dispatches increased by 10.90 percent while the exports registered a decline of 14.83 percent.

Mills based in Northern parts of the country despatched 3.058 million tons cement in March 2017 for domestic consumption while those located in the South despatched 0.695 million tons of cement during the same period. He said during the same months the exports from North were only 0.141 million tons and from South 0.071 million tons.