Pakistan has no plans to reverse its decision on importing cement from India to meet a current shortfall unless local manufacturers lower their rates significantly, a top official said.
’The ECC (Economic Coordination Committee) took the decision (to import) after detailed discussion, and it will not be reversed unless the prices come down to Rs.270 to Rs.272 per bag,’ Ashfaque Hasan Khan, economic advisor to the finance ministry, told IANS.
Some cement manufacturers met officials of the industries ministry a couple of days ago to urge for reversing the decision on importing cement from India.
Khan was of the view that Indian cement has not yet reached the domestic market, and said therefore it was ’out of the question’ to put any bar on it. ’As long as cement prices touch Rs.270-272 per bag on sustained basis, there will be no change in import policy,’ he added.
When the government feels that prices have come down to expected levels, the import policy would be reviewed for further action, he said.
The ministry of industries and production has estimated a monthly shortfall of 200,000t, which would continue till September. This would entail import of cement till December.
The Earthquake Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Authority (ERRA) has also been allowed to import cement from India for its reconstruction activities in Pakistani Kashmir and in the North West Frontier Province, which were ravaged by last year’s massive temblor that rendered millions homeless, sources said.
The export of cement to Afghanistan has been suspended by the prime minister until prices come down to below Rs.300 per bag.