LAHORE - The All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association (APCMA) has urged the government to double custom duty on import of clinker in the upcoming budget 2017-18 to support the local manufacturers, as exports continue to decline amidst buoyancy in domestic market.

Moreover, the industry recommended that the imports of cement should not be allowed until the importers register themselves with Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) to certify the quality of their cement in line with the Indian government as well as all other importing countries’ authorities, the industry representatives demanded.

The industry stakeholders 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.

The cost of electricity and gas in Pakistan is the highest in the region while additional duties on coal imports have nullified the lower cost of coal in the global markets. On the domestic front, high government levies have encouraged some unscrupulous elements to smuggle or import under-invoiced Iranian cement.

According to the association, more than 50 percent decline is reported in exports in April. The exports from the north were 181,911 tonnes and from the south was 0.074 million tons only. Total export of cement to Afghanistan in April was 0.045 million tons whereas export to India and other countries was 0.131 and 0.081 million tons, respectively.

During July-April, the domestic consumption of cement surged by 10.74 percent while the exports declined by 18.63 percent. Because of this massive decline in exports the growth in cement despatches increased by just 6.21 percent.