LAHORE - All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association (APCMA) has urged the government to make payment of inland freight subsidy and facilitate the industry in exporting cement as local consumption is stagnant, says a press release. A spokesman of APCMA said we are disposing cement at loss in the domestic, as well as foreign markets to utilise this capacity, he said adding that industry is unable to domestically absorb more than 50 per cent of installed capacity due to slack demand. He pointed out that Pakistani cement is being exported to Afghanistan and Central Asian States below cost. During last fiscal year cement industry exported over 4 million tons to these markets and industry is quite hopeful that exports to Afghanistan and Central Asian States shall increase further. However, he said, there is a lot of scope to increase exports through sea. Cement manufacturers could get export orders by sea, provided the issue of high inland freight cost from upcountry is addressed. Spokesman further said that the government has been providing freight subsidy on many items. For cement sector, in fact, it was announced in last fiscal at the rate of 35 per cent for export consignments via sea only. Freight subsidy approved by ECC is regretfully withheld. The cement manufacturers have not yet received any payment from State Bank of Pakistan neither any approval letter from TDAP. He said that adequate freight subsidy would enable all the cement manufacturing units to export their surplus capacity and earn substantial foreign exchange for the country. As of date, cement industry has filed claims for freight subsidy of over Rs 270 million to TDAP. He said that as the local demand picks up, the subsidy on exports may be gradually reduced. He said that currently only two cement mills that are located near sea port are exporting cement and earning profit. These mills have posted profits of Rs. 4 billion while the remaining mills that cannot export through sea have booked loss of over Rs 10 billion during last fiscal. He mentioned that almost 80 per cent of the cement production capacity is located in the northern part of the country and Afghanistan, with a limited annual cement uptake of 4 million ton, is the only market available to them for exports.