The cement sector in the country posted growth of 22.77 percent in August 2021 as total cement dispatches during the period under review were recorded at 4.336 million tonnes against 3.531 million tonnes dispatched during the same month of last fiscal year. According to the data released by All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association (APCMA), local cement dispatches during the month of August 2021 increased to 3.814 million tonnes from 2.805 million tonnes in August 2020, showing a healthy increase of 35.98 percent. Exports shipments however continued to decline as the volumes reduced from 726,687 tonnes in August 2020 to 521,468 tonnes in August 2021, decreasing by 28.24 percent. During August 2021, the North based cement mills dispatched 3.141 million tonnes cement in domestic markets showing an increase of 25.42 percent over 2.504 million tonnes dispatched in August 2020. South based mills dispatched 673,572 tonnes cement in local markets during August 2020 registering a robust increase of almost 124pc compared to the dispatches of 300,750 tonnes in August 2020. Exports from north based mills showed decline by 33.14pc as the quantities reduced from 212,076 tonnes in August 2020 to 141,804 tonnes in August 2021. The exports from south also decreased by 26.22 percent to 379,664 tonnes in August from 514,611 tonnes during the same month in the previous year. During the first two months of the current fiscal year, total cement dispatches (domestic and exports) were 8.235 million tonnes, which is 1.61 percent lower than 8.37 million tonnes dispatched during the corresponding period of last fiscal year. North based mills dispatched 6.033 million tonnes cement domestically during the first two months of current fiscal year showing a slight increase of 1.57 percent than cement dispatches of 5.939 million tonnes during July-August 2020. The exports from North declined by 17.16pc to 277,422 tonnes during July-August 2021 compared with 334,899 tonnes exported during the same period in the previous year. Domestic dispatches by South based Mills during July-August 2021 were 1.228 million tonnes showing a healthy increase of 50.01 percent over 818,600 tonnes cement dispatched during the same period of last fiscal year. The spokesman of APCMA said that the landed price of coal that was around Rs18,000 per tonnes in August 2018 has increased multiple times since then and current landed cost comes to around Rs31,500 per tonnes increasing the cost of production by approximately Rs90 per bag. Similarly, the electricity rate that was Rs11.68 per unit in August 2018 is now Rs19.40 per unit. This has impacted the cost of production by around Rs35 per bag. Other input costs like packing material, provincial taxes on raw material and fuel prices have also gone up which has increased the overall cost of production. He further emphasized that the current demand of imported coal for the cement sector is around 8.120 million tonnes but there is only one terminal in the country to handle entire coal shipments. Due to this, the cement industry is continuously facing delays in unloading of coal shipments, resultantly paying demurrages and incurring extra costs on its operations. The situation will further aggravate within the next two years when cement production capacity of the country will increase from 70 million tonnes to around 100 million tonnes per annum. Accordingly, the demand of coal will increase and coupled with the requirement of other sectors like textile and power, handling by just one terminal will not be possible. APCMA urges the government for availability of multiple berths for coal handling and also ensuring accessibility at KPT for coal handling (subject to cabinet’s approval). Without increasing the capacity of coal handling, the country will have a major risk of energy security as well as availability of key industrial materials such as cement, chemicals. The spokesman of APCMA added that increase in domestic dispatches is a good sign for the cement industry which shows that the economic activity has picked up which will help us to achieve higher GDP growth.