Karachi: Cement industry has recorded its highest ever dispatches of 3.584 million tons during March 2016 on the strength of healthy growth in domestic consumption and turnaround in exports; enabling it to utilize more than 90 percent of installed capacity during the month. While buoyancy in the domestic market has remained the main feature of cement growth, the turnaround in exports is an icing on the cake.
Cement dispatches to domestic markets during the month of March 16 increased by 19.13% to 3.05 Million Tons compared with 2.56 Million Tons during same month last year. The exports that dropped by double digits in the first seven months of this fiscal and showed a marginal growth of 1.47% during Feb 16, registered an impressive growth of 20.58 percent during March 16 as the quantity increased to 534,804 Tons compared to 443,539 Tons during March 15. Total dispatches during March 16 were 3.583 Million Tons compared to 3 Million Tons during same month last year showing a healthy increase of 19.34%.
The domestic sales in north during March 16 were 2,460,109 Tons compared to the domestic sales of 2,074,322 Tons during same month last year showing growth of 18.6%. The local sales in South during March 16 were 588,898 Tons compared to the local sales of 485,088 Tons during same month last year showing growth of 21.4%. This depicts that the economic activities have picked up in all regions of the country.
Analyzing the overall situation of current fiscal, the statistics show that during July 15 to March 16, cement industry dispatched 23.94 Million Tons in local markets posting a healthy growth of 17.69% compared with local dispatches during the same period of last fiscal year that were 20.34 Million Tons. Exports from the country declined by 19.02% to 4.406 Million Tons compared with exports during the first nine months of last year that were 5.44 Million Tons. The overall situation during first 3 quarters of current fiscal year showed 9.95% growth compared to the same period of last fiscal year as total dispatches increased to 28.34 Million Tons against 25.78 Million Tons from July 14 to March 15.
With regards to the turnaround in exports, spokesman of All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers’ Association said the growth in cement exports in March is very encouraging for the industry. He said this enabled the industry to utilize almost 95 percent of its installed capacity. He said the industry has full faith in the economy of the country and it has kept on increasing its capacity on regular basis, while further increase in capacity to the tune of around 26,000 tons per day is expected to be available after the commencement of DG Khan, Lucky, Cherat and Attock Cement expansions. Other major players are also working on expansion plans: the spokesman added.
The spokesman of APCMA regretted that despite utilization of around 95 percent capacity the industry is being accused of not using their idle capacity and of forming a cartel to keep the rates high. He said the two factors that prove this accusation as baseless are the utilization of installed capacity to maximum and the difference in maximum retail prices in different regions of the country that ranges from Rs. 482 per bag to Rs. 550 per bag. The industry is neither managing dispatches nor the prices and is operating on the principles of free market economy he asserted.