KARACHI: Amid heavy monsoon rains that caused flash floods across the country, the cement sector recorded a massive drop of 34 per cent in local despatches and a 44pc dip in exports during the first two months of the current fiscal year.

As a result, cumulative cement despatches (local and exports) in 2MFY23 registered a drop of 35pc to 5.336 million tonnes from 8.235m tonnes in the same period last fiscal year.

Domestic shipments were 4.795m tonnes as against 7.261m tonnes in the same period last fiscal, while exports shrank to 540,957 tonnes from 974,245 tonnes.

According to data released by All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association (APCMA), north-based mills despatched 4.121m tonnes domestically in the first two months of the current fiscal year showing a reduction of 32pc than 6.033m tonnes during July-August 2021-2022. Exports declined by 41.53pc to 162,210 tonnes compared with 277,422 tonnes.

Domestic despatches by South-based mills during July-August 2021-2022 were 674,436 tonnes, down by 45pc over 1.228m tonnes during the same period last fiscal year. Exports plunged by 45.65pc to 378,747 tonnes during 2MFY23 from 696,823 tonnes.

The APCMA spokesman, while emphasizing the government to come up with industry-friendly policies, attributed sluggish cement demand to economic instability, day by day increasing energy costs coupled with the currency devaluation that is having serious implications on the industry.

He said the floods, which have hit major parts of the country, are yet another challenge for the government as restoration of damaged infrastructure and rehabilitation of masses need to be addressed on a war footing to bring the country out of the difficult situation.

According to data from the Sensitive Price Indicator (SPI) for the week ending September 1, 2022, cement bag price has risen by 53pc to Rs 1,035 per 50 kg bag from Rs 673 prevailing on September 2, 2021.

Total cement despatches during August fell by 24pc to 3.296m tonnes as against 4.336m tonnes in August 2021.

Local cement sales during August 2022 were 2.90m tonnes as compared to 3.81m tonnes in August 2021, showing a drop of 24pc. Exports declined by 26pc from 521,468 tonnes to 387,440 tonnes.

In August 2022, North-based cement mills sold 2.59m tonnes which was 21pc lower than 3.28m tonnes in August 2021. South-based mills despatched 700,436 tonnes during August 2022 which was 33.50pc less compared to 1.05m tonnes during August 2021.

North-based cement mills sold 2.50m tonnes in domestic markets last month, showing a fall of 20.29pc against 3.14m tonnes in August 2021. South-based mills despatched 404,959 tonnes in local markets during August 2022 which was 40pc less compared to 673,572 tonnes during August 2021.

Exports from North-based mills also stood lower by 35.15pc from 141,804 tonnes in August 2021 to 91,963 tonnes in August 2022. Exports from the South also came down by 22.17pc to 295,477 tonnes in August 2022 from 379,664 tonnes during the same month last year.

Published in Dawn, September 3rd, 2022

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