ISLAMABAD: As coronavirus outbreak is starting to take its toll on various sectors of the economy, the domestic consumption of cement has declined by 16.7 per cent in March 2020.
According to the data released by the All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association (APCMA), the industry despatched 3.721 million tonnes of cement in March, which was 14.26pc less than the despatches of 4.340 million tonnes during the corresponding month of last year.
The pressure was heavier from the domestic market where the uptake was reduced to little less than 3.2 million tonnes from 3.8 million tonnes in March 2019.
Exports though inched up from 0.482 million tonnes last in March 2019 to 0.507 million tonnes in March.
Increase in exports should be viewed with a huge loss of Indian market. Exports to India have remained zero this fiscal, while last year during the first nine months, Pakistan exported 0.716 million tonnes of cement to India.
North based mills despatched 2.749 million tonnes locally, which was almost 10.48pc lower than the dispatches of 3.017 million tonnes during the corresponding month of last fiscal.
As per recent trends, exports from the North based mills also decreased in March 2020 by 18.85pc to 0.107 million tonnes, from 0.132 million tonnes in March 2019.
The Southern region of the country reported a decline in domestic despatches by 40.96pc, as it fell from 0.787 million tonnes in March 2019 to 0.464 million tonnes in March 2020, whereas exports registered a rise of 14.32pc to 0.401 million tonnes last month, as compared to 0.351 million tonnes in March 2019.
Furthermore, cement industry experts opined that “In the wake of the lockdown extended till April 14, which means that the economic activities would remain further subdued. The industry is hoping to get some relief package from the government as managing despatches is becoming extremely difficult with each passing day.”
The prime minister’s incentive package for the construction industry will help to increase the cement consumption in the country. However, the cement industry is expecting reduction in the federal excise duty, which is already very high in the region.
Moreover, industry experts also added that the additional government levies slapped on the industry in this year and the electricity rate should also be reduced.
The APCMA’s spokesman added that, “Overall in the first nine months of this fiscal the industry managed to dispatch 37.035 million tonnes of cement that is 7.06pc higher than 34.593 million tonnes of the commodity despatches during July-March 2018-19.”
The domestic consumption during this period amounted to little over more than 30 million tonnes, while the exports amounted to 6.5 million tonnes. The domestic cement dispatches increased during this period by 3.82pc percent only, while the cement exports registered a rise of 25.63pc.