LAHORE  -  The All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association (APCMA) has said that the tariff of electricity and gas in the country is the highest in the region while additional duties on coal imports have nullified the lower cost of coal in the global markets. 

The APCMA spokesman said that high government levies have encouraged some unscrupulous elements to smuggle or import under invoiced Iranian cement. He said that Pakistan has already lost a major chunk of its market in Afghanistan to Iranian cement.  

The high energy cost has made the cement more expensive as cement is an energy intensive sector. 

In spite of cement consumption having rebounded in the domestic market in February the industry registered a negative growth due to massive decline in exports. According to data, exports in February stood at 0.254 million tons that is 45.69 percent less than exports achieved in February 2016. During this period the domestic consumption increased by 9.12 percent but exports declined by 8.54 percent. In contrast, the exports from North declined by only 2.98 percent compared with a decline of 18.21 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 APCMA spokesman urged the government to take effective steps in order to stop penetration of Iranian cement in Pakistani markets on the strength of massive under invoicing/misdeclaration. A proper vigilance and accountability system needs to be put in place to stop cement smuggling into the country, he added. 

It is urged to increase the customs duty on import of clinker and cement from 10 percent & 20 percent to 35 percent in order to support the local manufacturers and imports of cement should not be allowed until exporters have registered themselves with Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) and PSQCA certified the quality of cement, just as being done by India and all other importing countries’ authorities.