Cement off-take registers 3pc growth

KARACHI: Cement sales surged 3.0 percent and exports  to 11.133 million tons during the first quarter of the current fiscal year, industry data showed on Wednesday.

An industry’s official termed the subdued growth to double-digit decline in uptake from cement factories in southern region. Cement dispatches stood at 10.855 million tons in the corresponding quarter a year earlier.

All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association’s (APCMA) data showed that local despatches were almost the same in the July-September period as compared to the same period last year. Cement sales stood at 9.116 million tons in the quarter compared to 9.063 million tons in the July-September of 2018.

Exports, however, registered a healthy increase of 12.54 percent as they rose to 2.017 million tons in the first quarter of this fiscal year from 1.792 million tons in the same period last year.

APCMA spokesperson said cement mills operating in the south have entered the red zone as 32.10 percent decline in their uptake is extremely high and alarming during the first quarter of this fiscal year.

“Government should start the work on announced housing projects that will have a positive impact on uptake of construction materials, including cement and create jobs for skilled and unskilled labour,” the spokesperson added.

“The government needs to support the industry by minimising duties and taxes on cement in order to increase cement consumption.” The government expressed commitments occasionally to provide five million low-cost houses in the next five years.

In September, the cement industry posted growth as the total despatches increased 11.51 percent compared with the corresponding month of last year with both local consumption and exports increasing in double digits.

Cement industry despatched 4.270 million tons of cement in September as against 3.829 million tons despatched in September 2018. Domestic consumption reached 3.472 million tons this September compared to 3.114 million tons during the same month last year.

Exports, during the month, also increased to 0.798 million tons last month as compared

to 0.715 million tons in September 2018, an increase of 11.66 percent.

The industry’s official said a major change witnessed this fiscal was consumption in the northern region of the country started rising. In September, local consumption increased 22.4 percent year-on-year to 3.027 million tons last month.

The southern region that was buoyant last fiscal year remained subdued in September with 0.446 million tons of local desptaches compared to 0.641 million tons in September 2018, depicting a decline of 30.48 percent.

APCMA’s spokesperson appreciated the revival of cement consumption in the northern part of the country. “The lopsided consumption pattern has benefitted the plants located in the northern region,” he said.

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