KARACHI: Cement despatches rose 8.3 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter of this fiscal year, according to data released by the All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association (APCMA).
During the July-September quarter, the cement industry despatched 8.976 million tonnes as compared to 8.286m tonnes in the same period a year ago. Capacity utilisation during the quarter rose 7pc to 79pc.
Local cement sales increased 9.5pc during the quarter while exports grew 3pc.
However, the situation was the other way round in September. Domestic sales during the month stood at 2.536m tonnes, a year-on-year growth of just 2pc, whereas exports jumped 12pc to 523,000 tonnes. Total cement despatches during the month amounted to 3.059m tonnes, a rise of 3.55pc.
Slack demand on the domestic market stunted growth in local cement sales while exports registered double-digit growth during September, an APCMA spokesman said.
A major reason for slowdown in domestic growth during the month was holidays on account of Eidul Azha. It was the first time in more than 15 months that growth in exports exceeded domestic sales, he said.
In September, exports to Afghanistan increased nominally to 228,000 tonnes from 223,000 tonnes a year ago while despatches to India more than doubled to 112,000 tonnes. Cement is exported to India mainly through Wagah border and the southern coast of India.
The APCMA spokesman said domestic consumption of cement would pick up once the property valuation issue is settled. The growth in demand for infrastructure projects continued unabated, however, the government should avoid disruptive policies that impact construction growth in the country, he added.
The association urged the government to take further measures to encourage domestic construction sector which is a major source of employment for the non-skilled workforce.
Published in Dawn, October 7th, 2016