Karachi: Cement despatches to domestic markets during the month of March 15 increased by 3.89% percent to 2.56 Million Tons compared with 2.46 Million Tons during same month last year. Exports during March 15 showed massive decline by 39% as the volumes dropped to 443,000 Tons against 726,000 Tons during March, 14. Total despatches during March, 15 were 3 Million Tons compared to 3.189 Million Tons during same month last year showing reduction of 5.86 percent mainly due to declining exports.
During the first 9 months of current fiscal year, cement industry despatched 20.34 Million Tons in local markets posting a growth of 8.43 percent compared with local despatches during the same period of last fiscal year that were 18.76 Million Tons. Exports from the country declined by 9.58 percent to 5.44 Million Tons compared with exports during the first nine months of last year. The overall situation during first 3 quarters of current fiscal year showed 4.06% growth compared to the same period of last fiscal year as total despatches increased to 25.78 Million Tons against 24.78 Million Tons from July 13 to March, 14.
Revealing the performance of the sector Spokesman of APCMA said that during the first nine months of current fiscal, average local cement despatches were 2.26 Million Tons per month against 2.084 Million Tons per month during same period of last fiscal. Exports were however down to 605,000 Tons per month from average of 669,000 Tons per month during the first nine months of last fiscal. The exports of cement are on continuous decline during current fiscal year. In Afghanistan, the situation is very serious as total exports dropped to 2.06 Million Tons during 9 months of current fiscal year against 2.75 Million Tons during same period last year i.e. by 25%.
Another major issue impacting cement industry is the illegal import of the commodity from Iran and the tax evasions at import stage by misdeclarations. Spokesman of APCMA said that ‘Unfortunately the quantity of cement has been found understated on the Customs “Goods Declaration Form” resulting in substantial loss to the national exchequer. This is all done through collusion of the dealers with the Customs Department Officials and the transporters’. Full taxes are not being paid on the import of Iranian Cement, he added.
A road trailer entering Pakistan via Taftan Border carries up to 60 tons of Cement. However, proper taxation is not carried out as the quantity mentioned in Goods Declaration Form differs from the actual weight of the consignment. The transporter issues two different bilties, one for the Customs Department and the other one, which is the actual one, for freight purposes. It is worth mentioning that if taxes are paid in full, Iranian Cement would be almost the same price as ours.
‘At present the country’s surplus cement production capacity is more than 20 million tons per annum and it is coming under further pressure due to illegal import of Iranian cement,’ said the spokesperson of APCMA adding that it is not only damaging the local industry but also through mis-declaration giving substantial loss to the national exchequer.
He appealed the government functionaries to intervene and take effective steps to stop illegal import of Iranian cement and protect local cement industry by including cement in negative list of import items so that the country’s surplus production capacity can be utilized to the maximum extent. This will help to increase the economic growth in the country and will also curb malpractices at different levels.