industry
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Cement sales at unprecedented heights

KARACHI: Cement dispatches in the first quarter of this fiscal year stood at 10.348 million tonnes — the highest ever. The industry operated at 88 per cent installed capacity.

Of the 10.348m tonnes, the North Zone despatched 7.522m tonnes locally, up 23pc than corresponding qua­­rter of last year. The region during this period exported 0.953m tonnes which was 7.41pc less than the same period last year when exports stood at 1.029m tonnes.

Mills located in South Zone despatched 1.539m tonnes in the first quarter, showing a jump of 17.76pc than the corresponding period last fiscal. Its exports during the same period were 0.334m tonnes, down 35.22pc than last year when exports were at 0.516m tonnes.

According to the data released by All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers’ Ass­o­­ciation (APCMA), the sector despatched 3.199m ton­n­es in Sept 2017, up 4.61pc than a year earlier. Local consumption was 10.33pc higher than the corresponding per­iod last year. Export went down by over 23pc in Sept 2017 as compared to Sept 2016. In Sept 2017, local despatches from North-based mills stood at 2.367m tonnes, 12.05pc higher than 2.113m tonnes in Sept 2016. However, exports from the region fell 16.27pc from 0.368m tonnes from a year earlier to 0.308m tonnes in Sept 2017.

Mills based in the Southern region posted a meagre rise of 1.77pc in local despatches from 0.423m tonnes in Sept 2016 to 0.431m tonnes in Sept 2017. Exports from the region dropped considerably to 0.093m tonnes only in Sept 2017 from 0.155m tonnes in the same month last year, down 40pc.

APCMA spokesperson expressed dismay over continued decline in exports particularly from Southern part of the country that is nearer to the seaport.

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, he added.

He said cement production capacities are likely to increase in near future and the industry would require an 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.

The APCMA called for lowering of punitive duties on cement.

According to an analyst at Top Line Securities, few cement manufacturers in North have widened their discounts and are now offering grey cement at Rs495-510 per bag as against Rs525-535 per bag previously.