LAHORE - The All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association (APCMA) has said the robust construction activities within the country are supporting the cement sector but it still is sitting on some idle capacity that could be exported through government facilitations like sharing the transport cost.

The cement production capacities are likely to increase in near future and the industry would require export base to operate at optimum capacity, said the APCMA spokesperson. He said that in the past, the government had a scheme of ‘freight subsidy’ to facilitate the cement exporters from reaching the seaport in order to export the cement.

He also called for lowering of ‘punitive duties’ on cement that has made it costly for the construction sector and especially hurting the middle class aspiring to construct a home. He expressed dismay at the continued decline in exports particularly from southern part of the country that is nearer to the seaport. According to the data, the export sector continued to register a huge decline, which was down by over 23 percent in September 2017 as compared to September 2016. The sector despatched 3.199 million tons of cement in September 2017 that was 4.61 percent higher than the commodity despatched in September 2016. The local consumption, however, was 10.33 percent higher than the corresponding period of last year.

The local despatches from mills based in northern part of Pakistan stood at 2.367 million tons in September 2017, 12.05 percent higher than 2.113 million tons despatched in September 2016. However, exports from the region fell 16.27 percent from 0.368 million tons in September 2016 to 0.308 million tons in September 2017. Mills based in Southern region posted a meagre increase of 1.77 percent in local despatches from 0.423 million tons in September 2016 to 0.431 million tons in September 2017.