KARACHI: The All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association (APCMA) finally released the cement sales data on Friday revealing a 5.5 per cent decline in domestic despatches during July-August attributing it to economic contraction, while exports posted 12.66pc jump.
The APCMA had suspended releasing sales and exports data since April due to unknown reasons. However, it has finally updated the figures on the website.
As per the APCMA data, the first month of current fiscal year started on a negative note as domestic demand decreased by 2.55pc to 2.97 million tonnes from 3.04m tonnes in July 2018. However, exports during July clocked in at 0.53m tonnes, up 2pc compared to same month last year.
Domestic sales in August stood at 2.66m tonnes, down 8.58pc compared to 2.90m tonnes in the corresponding month last year. However, exports during the month rose to 0.68m tonnes from 0.56m tonnes in August last year; up 22.67pc.
Local sales down 5.5pc
However, the overall despatches in August declined by 3.55pc to 3.33m tonnes from 3.46m tonnes in the same month last year.
In FY19, total local cement despatches slightly fell by 1.95pc to 40.345m tonnes. Region-wise, local despatches by cement producers in the north stood at 32.364m tonnes compared to 33.968m tonnes last year whereas those of the southern manufacturers rose to 7.981m tonnes as against 7.178m tonnes in FY18.
On the other hand, exports during FY19 soared to 6.536m tonnes from 4.746m tonnes, up by 37.7pc. Exports to India fell by 41pc to 715,835 tonnes in FY19 due to the imposition of 200pc import duty by the Indian government after Pulwama attacks in February. Subsequently, exports to India have fallen to zero from March onwards.
APCMA spokesperson said the regular increase in domestic demand in the southern region during the last fiscal year saved the sector from a total collapse. However, in the first two months of the current fiscal year, cement uptake from the southern region declined by a massive 33pc while the uptake in north inched up by only 1.66pc. However, the slight increase from northern region could not offset the overall decline.
He said the overall cement consumption usually adds to employment opportunities in the country. As local demand declines, the number of jobs also falls. He said the government should take steps to generate jobs for the ever-increasing entry of workforce in the job market.
The representative added that the cement industry is currently facing a torrid time and claimed that the government’s move to slap additional taxes on the industry in the ongoing fiscal year has further discouraged the sector. Steps like increase in taxes on cement, high power and gas tariffs accompanied with axle load restrictions on cement dispatches reduced the uptake across the country.
He said that following the withdrawal of axle weight restriction, the uptake would gradually increase.
Published in Dawn, September 14th, 2019