Operating at 88.18 percent of its installed capacity in the first quarter of this fiscal year, the cement industry produced 10.348 million tonnes of cement – the highest ever; paving the way to cross the 40 million tonnes mark in the current fiscal year.
According to the data released by All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers’ Association (APCMA), the sector produced 3.199 million tonnes of cement in September 2017 which was 4.61 percent higher than the production in September 2016. The local consumption, however, was 10.33 percent higher than in the corresponding period of last year. The export sector continued to register a decline, which was down by over 23 percent in September 2017 as compared to September 2016.
The local production from mills based in northern parts of Pakistan stood at 2.367 million tonnes in September 2017, 12.05 percent higher than 2.113 million tonnes produced in September 2016. However, exports from the region fell by 16.27 percent, from 0.368 million tonnes in September 2016 to 0.308 million tonnes in September 2017.
Mills based in southern region posted a meager increase of 1.77 percent in local production, from 0.423 million tonnes in September 2016 to 0.431 million tonnes in September 2017. Exports from the region dropped considerably, from 0.155 million tonnes in September 2016 to 0.093 million tonnes in September 2017, a decrease of 39.63 percent.
Of the 10.348 million tonnes produced in the first quarter, the north zone produced 7.522 million tonnes locally, 22.83 percent higher than in the corresponding quarter of last year. The region during this period exported 0.953 million tonnes of cement, 7.41 percent less than the exports during same period last year. The mills located in south zone produced 1.539 million tonnes cement in the first quarter of this fiscal, 17.76 percent higher than the corresponding period of last fiscal. The exports during the same period were 0.334 million tonnes, 35.22 percent less than last year’s 0.516 million tonnes.
APCMA expressed dismay at the continued decline in exports, particularly from southern region of the country which is also close to the seaport. The robust construction activities within the country are supporting the cement sector, but it still has idle capacity that could be utilized for exports through government facilitations, like sharing the transport cost, APCMA said.
The cement production capacities are likely to increase in the near future and the industry would require its export base to operate at optimum capacity. 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, APCMA added.
They also called for lowering the duties on cement that have made it costly for the construction sector and have affected the middle class, in particular.