The cement sector posted a double-digit decline of 19.05pc in the month of February compared with the corresponding month last year.
According to data released by the All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association (APCMA), the cement industry despatched 3.325 million tonnes in February 2019 against the despatches of 3.780 million tonnes in February 2018.
It seems that the domestic sector almost collapsed in last month as the domestic consumption declined by 19.05pc from 3.479 million tonnes in February 2018 to just 2.817 million tonnes in February 2019.
The overall exports from the country increased by a healthy 69.07pc on a year-on-year basis in February. The industry exported 0.508 million tonnes of clinker and cement in February 2019 against the exports of mere 0.301 million tonnes in February 2018.
The domestic consumption in the northern part of the country continued to decline as it was only 2.148 million tonnes last month, against 2.871 million tonnes in the same month last year.
Exports from the northern mills also suffered 8.66pc decline (0.165 million tonnes) in February 2019, against 0.181 million tonnes recorded in February 2018.
The southern part of the country fared comparatively better as local consumption in the region stood at 0.669 million tonnes in February 2019, as compared to 0.609 million tonnes in February 2018. Exports from the region also increased by 185pc from 0.120 million tonnes in February 2018 to 0.343 million tonnes in February 2019.
The overall cement despatches in the eight months of this fiscal stood at 30.091 million tonnes, which was only 0.05pc lower than the despatches of 30.106 million tonnes achieved during the same period of last year.
The APCMA spokesman expressed dismay on the constant decline in cement uptake in the country, especially in the northern region. He said recent rains in almost all parts of the country have affected the construction activities, adding that a halt in the government spending on Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) is also a major concern for the industry.
“Exports to India have also stopped owing to the prevalent tension between the two countries,” he stated.
He appealed the government to minimise duties and taxes, especially on exports, to help the industry earn precious foreign exchange. He also urged the government to restart spending on Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) as it would not only boost the consumption of cement but would also provide opportunities to the skilled and unskilled labour.