KARACHI: Total cement despatches (local sales and export) plunged 27 per cent to 3.520 million tonnes in August from 4.838m tonnes in July due to slowdown in construction activities amid countrywide rains, Eid ul Azha and Ashura holidays.
However, overall despatches posted a 5pc increase over 3.35m tonnes reported in August 2019.
The local uptake in August increased by 4.84pc to 2.794m tonnes, from 2.665m in same period last year while exports rose by 5.82pc to 0.725m tonnes, from 0.685m.
According to data released by All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association (APCMA), the North-based mills despatched 2.493m tonnes in the domestic market in August versus 2.347m tonnes same period last year — registering an increase of 6.26pc. Exports from the same region were 0.211m tonnes, 8.45pc higher over 0.195m tonnes recorded in corresponding month of 2019.
The Southern mills continued their declining trend in the domestic market by despatching only 0.301m tonnes in August, down 5.6pc year-on-year compared to 0.319m tonnes. On the other hand, their exports edged up 4.78pc to 0.515m tonnes, from 0.491m tonnes.
Overall cement despatches during 2MFY21 jumped by 22pc to 8.358m tonnes in August, led by local uptake surging 19.53p to 6.747m, from 5.644mn tonnes while exports soared 32.20pc to 1.611m tonnes from 1.218m.
APCMA spokesman said the industry was expecting the momentum witnessed in July would continue but decline in local uptake and exports in August was disappointing due to rains, Eid and Ashura holidays.
He said the industry is unable to understand that the impact of construction package has not been felt in the Southern region while North’s growth of 6.26pc in local sales is also not extraordinary. He urged the government to minimise duties and taxes on the cement sector in order to increase consumption.
The association representative also wondered why the cement and captive power were excluded from subsidised power and gas that is available to five exporting sectors.
Published in Dawn, September 5th, 2020