KARACHI: Cement sector posted the highest-ever monthly growth of 44.39 per cent in March to 5.773 million tonnes from 3.722m tonnes in the same period last year due to a massive increase in domestic consumption and exports.
Data released by the All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association (APCMA) on Friday showed that local cement dispatches in March 2021 were 4.563m tonnes, up by 42pc compared to 3.214m tonnes in the same period last year. Exports swelled by 60pc from 507,480 tonnes in March 2020 to 810,962 tonnes in March 2021.
During March 2021, cement mills in the North dispatched 3.809m tonnes to local markets against 2.749m tonnes in March 2020, up by 38.52pc. In March 2021, south-based mills dispatched 753,704 tonnes in domestic markets which was 62.28pc higher than 464,440 tonnes in the same period last year.
Exports from North-based mills registered an enormous increase of 162.58pc as the volumes increased from 106,759 tonnes in March 2020 to 280,330 tonnes in March 2021. Exports from South rose by 32.42pc to 530,632 tonnes in March 2021 from 400,721 tonnes during the same month last year.
During the first nine months of the current fiscal year (9MFY21), total cement dispatches (domestic and exports) were 43.325m tonnes that was 17pc higher than 37.035m tonnes during the corresponding period of last fiscal year.
During July-March 2020-21, local dispatches increased by 18.29pc to 36.182m tonnes from 30.588m tonnes during 9MFY20. Exports increased from 6.447m tonnes during July-March 2019-2020 to 7.144m tonnes during 9MFY21, showing a growth of 11pc.
During 9MFY21, North-based mills dispatched 30.629m tonnes for domestic consumption, marking an increase of 17.75pc compared to the same period last fiscal year when it stood at 26.012m tonnes. Exports from North were 1.911m tonnes, down by 0.22pc over exports of 1.915m tonnes during the same period of last fiscal year.
South-based mills dispatched 5.552m tonnes in the domestic market during 9MFY21, up by 21.36pc than 4.575m tonnes during the corresponding period of last fiscal year. Exports from South were 5.232m tonnes – registering a jump of 15.46pc over exports of 4.531m tonnes during the same period last fiscal year.
The APCMA spokesman said overall growth was accompanied by some worrisome signs as the rates of power and coal were consistently increasing. “Cement is an energy intensive product. The industry is finding it hard to operate due to continuous rise in major input cost elements,” the spokesman said. “The industry is not demanding any special favours but wants to be treated on a par with five export-oriented sectors. Import levies on coal have to be rationalised as it is the main input of the cement sector,” he added.
Published in Dawn, April 3rd, 2021