Salman Khan
Salman Khan

KARACHI: Robust construction activities boosted cement sales by 24.3 per cent during April 2021 to 4.066 million tonnes versus 3.271m tonnes in the same month last year. Exports posted a massive growth of 252pc to 877,163 tonnes during April 2021 from 249,127 tonnes a year ago.

As a result, total cement dispatches (local sales and exports) grew by 40.41pc in April 2021 to 4.943m tonnes as against 3.52m tonnes during the same month of 2020, figures released by All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association (APCMA) showed on Tuesday.

During April 2021, the North-based cement mills dispatched 3.377m tonnes in the domestic markets, up by 15.33pc over 2.928m tonnes from a year ago. South-based mills sales stood at 688,239 tonnes in the local markets during April this year, depicting a jump of 100pc compared to 342,594 tonnes in April 2020.

Exports from North-based mills registered an enormous increase of 155 times as the volumes increased from just 1,609 tonnes in April 2020 to 250,072 tonnes in April 2021. Exports from South rose by 153.35pc to 627,091 tonnes in April 2021 from 247,519 tonnes during the same month last year.

During 10MFY21, total cement dispatches (domestic and exports) were 48.274m tonnes, showing a jump of 19pc from 40.555m tonnes during the corresponding period of last fiscal year.

Local sales during Jul-April 2020-21 surged by 18.87pc to 40.249m tonnes from 33.859m tonnes in the same period last fiscal. Exports improved from 6.696m tonnes during 10MFY20 to 8.025m tonnes during 10MFY21, up by 19.84pc.

During 10MFY21, North-based mills sold 34.008m tonnes for domestic consumption that was 17.51pc higher compared to the dispatches during the same period last fiscal that stood at 28.941m tonnes. Exports from North were 2.161m tonnes, up by 13pc over exports of 1.916m tonnes during the same period of last fiscal year.

Local dispatches from South-based mills were 6.241m tonnes during the first ten months of the current fiscal year which was 27pc higher than 4.917m tonnes during the corresponding period of last fiscal year. Exports from South recorded 5.863m tonnes, registering an increase of 22.69pc over exports of 4.779m tonnes during the same period last year.

An APCMA spokesman said cement exports would likely cross nine million tonnes by June 2021. Another point worth noting is that domestic dispatches are increasing even in the month of Ramazan during which the construction activities usually slow down, he added.

However, despite this growth, the industry is operating in very tough situation due to continuous rise in major inputs.

He urged the government to treat the cement sector on a par with other exporting sectors and rationalise import levies on coal as well as the electricity tariff which are the main cost elements of the cement sector.

According to Top Line Securities, cement retail prices during April 2021 have averaged at Rs604 per 50 kg in North, unchanged from March 2021. In South, retail prices have increased by Rs10-15 per 50 kg bag to an average of Rs634 per bag in April 2021.

Cement is being exported to East Africa, Sri Lanka, Yemen and Mozambique by sea and to Afghanistan by land route. Around 50pc of total cement exports went to Kabul, said an exporter- cum-manufacturer.

Published in Dawn, May 5th, 2021

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