Tariq Saigol, chairman of All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association (APCMA), has said that the strong growth in demand for cement was evident in the last fiscal year and continued to accelerate in the first quarter of the current financial year. According to a press release issued on Monday, total dispatches by the cement sector during first quarter amount to 3.20Mt, including 0.26Mt for export to Afghanistan. “This represents capacity utilization in the first quarter of 76.64 percent, which compares most favourably with the corresponding period of last fiscal, when total dispatches amounted to 2.739Mt, including 0.079Mt for export and capacity utilisation was 68.2 percent.”
The release said the growth in cement demand both in the domestic market and in Afghanistan would indicate a healthy increase in expenditure on infrastructure projects, housing and enhanced investment by the private sector. “What remains to be seen is whether this growth trend will be sustained through the remainder of the year and there appear sufficient indications that this will be the case”.
As demand has grown and capacity utilization has improved, cement prices are now prevailing from Rs 200 to 225 per bag depending on brand and proximity or otherwise of a particular market from area of production.
The release said this is despite the fact that there has been a rapid increase in coal prices internationally, possibly in sympathy with increase in oil prices and larger consumption of coal in countries like Japan where the use of nuclear power appears to be declining.
“The APCMA is confident that in view of the large capacity still to be utilized, it will be in a position to fully cater to the demands of the market even if this rising trend in cement consumption were to continue.”