Cement despatches rise 12pc despite poor exports

KARACHI: Total cement despatches remained 22.24 million tonnes in the first half of 2017-18, up 12.3 per cent from a year ago.Capacity utilisation stood at 95pc in the six-month period, according to data released by the All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers’ Association (APCMA) on Thursday.Domestic consumption stood at 19.83m tonnes in the first six months of this fiscal year, up 17.41pc year-on-year.A continuous decline in exports affected overall growth. Exports dropped 17.34pc to 2.41m tonnes during the period under review.Cement units located in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa despatched 16.45m tonnes locally, showing an 18.12pc jump over the same period a year ago.Units located in Sindh and Balochistan sold 3.38m tonnes in local markets, up 14pc year-on-year.Exports from south-based mills took a major hit as they went down 36.23pc to 0.61m tonnes. Exports from north-based mills plunged 8pc to 1.8m tonnes.An APCMA spokesman attributed the fall in exports to the high cost of doing business. He added that regulators are ignoring malpractices in imports besides paying no attention to the plea of cement makers about a reduction in duties and taxes on exports.The cement sector has witnessed a sales boom for the last four years, he said, adding that it contributes a hefty amount to the national exchequer every year.The government ignored the timely warnings by cement manufacturers about making policy changes to ensure sustained exports. Now it is looking the other way as cement manufacturers complain about smuggling and under-invoicing, he added.He said no authority checks the quality of imports as opposed to Pakistan’s exports to India, Sri Lanka and African countries that undergo quality checks, he said.In December 2017, the industry’s total despatches stood at 3.73m tonnes, up 5pc from the corresponding month a year ago.Last month, exports fell 11.25pc year-on-year to 0.33m tonnes, APCMA data showed. Published in Dawn, January 5th, 2018

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