LAHORE - The overall cement dispatches have increased by 5.37 percent to 15.353 million tons during the first four months (July-Oct) of the current fiscal year of 2018-19 while the domestic uptake has shown almost flat growth, as it increased by paltry 0.82 percent during this period.

The data of the All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association released on Wednesday said that cement dispatches grew by 7.45 percent in the month of October 2018. The industry dispatched 4.536 million tons of cement last month out of which almost 3.921 million tons was consumed domestically and rest 0.615 million tons was exported. Exports grew by impressive 38.87 percent while the domestic consumption registered an increase of just 3.76 percent.

The spokesperson of the APCMA said that stagnancy in domestic cement consumption and increasing input costs have badly hurt the bottom line of the cement sector but the saving grace was healthy growth in exports from south mills by sea that saved the day for the industry.

Consumption pattern in northern and southern parts of the country highlights the huge contrast in cement demand in different parts of the country. The mills in the northern part of the country usually lead the growth but they suffered so far due to negative domestic and export demand. Domestic cement demand declined in first four months of this fiscal by 4 percent as the dispatches fell from 10.671 million tons in July-Oct 2017 to 10.244 million tons in July-Oct 2018 while the exports posted a decrease of 21.54 percent, going down from 1.287 million tons in first four months of last fiscal to 1.010 million tons during same period this year.

In contrast, mills in southern part of the country posted high growth in the first four months of this fiscal. These mills dispatched 2.702 million tons of cement for local market that was 24.53 percent higher than 2.170 million tons dispatched during the corresponding period of last year while exports of cement from southern region also increased by 216 percent to 1.397 million tons in July-Oct 2018 from 0.442 million tons only during same period last year.

APCMA spokesman appealed to the government to cut down duties and taxes on cement to improve its local demand and help the manufacturers to explore foreign markets to earn precious foreign exchange and contribute more to the national economy.