LAHORE     -     Pakistan’s total cement dispatches during first quarter of the fiscal year went up by 2.56 percent to 11.133 million tons. Out of total sales, local dispatches increased to 9.116m tons from 9.063m tons while exports grew by 12.54pc to 2.017m tons from 1.792m in the last fiscal year. In September, total dispatches increased by 11.51 percent to 4.270 million tons compared to the corresponding period last year. During the month, domestic consumption reached 3.472m tons from 3.114 million tons during the same month last year. Exports rose to 0.798 million tons last month as compared to 0.715 million tons in September 2018. Local consumption in the northern region during the month under review swelled by 22.4pc to 3.027m tons from 2.47 million tons in September 2018. The southern region witnessed 30.48pc drop in dispatches to 0.446m tons from 0.64 million tons in September 2018. Industry experts said the lopsided consumption pattern has benefited plants located in the northern region while those operating in the south have entered the red zone in view of over 32 percent drop in uptake during the first quarter of this fiscal year. They said the country has the potential to produce about 60 million tons of cement per year. Recently, a cement company has closed its old plant, which had production capacity of 3,150 tons per day. The government has given tax benefits on the introduction of new technology in cement plants. At present, the interest rate in Pakistan is so high that no one is considering starting a new business.