Aizaz Mansoor Shaikh, chairman of the All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association (APCMA) has said cement prices have displayed a much lower increase over the last few years compared to other building materials and essential commodities.
The News Tribe of Pakistan reports that on average, cement prices increased 6.28 per cent since 2000 to the first half of the current fiscal compared to steel rates raised by 15.90 per cent while the cost of bricks were up by 13.12 per cent.
Mr Mansoor Shaikh said input costs such as diesel, power and coal have witnessed significant rises since 2007, while the price of cement per bag rose from PKR328.5 in 2008-09 to PKR350 in 2011-12.
For the first seven months of the current fiscal the country produced 17.94Mt, 3.94 per cent more than the same period of last year. A 7.21 per cent in domestic demand for the period was offset by a 3.59 per cent decline in exports.
He highlighted that the cement sector continues to operate below 70 per cent of installed capacity while most manufacturers are not recovering even full input costs. He said that the cement sector had paid a heavy price for the expansion in production capacity that had been planned on the assumption that the economy would grow an average six per cent or above. However, economic growth has averaged 2.5 per cent over the pas four years, suppressing demand in the local market.