KARACHI - Expressing its concerns over alarming increase in the prices of steel, cement and petroleum products, Association of Builders And Developers (ABAD) has said that the raise is going to have disastrous impact on the construction activities in the country. The raise in material prices is not only making it impossible for the poor and even middle class of the society to acquire a roof over their heads, but the rate of unemployment for skilled and unskilled labour will touch new heights. In a joint statement, ABAD Chairman Engr Farooquz Zaman, Vice Chairman Arif Siddiq and Regional Chairman Saleem Qasim Patel have said that the last two months have seen record increase in the prices of steel. The cost of steel bars prepared from ship plates, which were available at Rs40,000 per ton two months back, have now crossed Rs66,000. This increase in steel prices will resultantly raise the construction cost by at least 10pc. The ABAD office-bearers said in a Ground + Seven Residential Building, steel has a share of 30 to 40 per cent in the total construction cost, whereas in a four storey building it is between 15 to 20pc. The cement manufacturers too have enhanced the prices of a 50-kg bag by 10 to 15 rupees soon after the end of the winter season. If the government fails to take prompt action it is feared the prices of cement will be increased further. ABAD office-bearers added the share of cement in the total construction cost comprising 15pc and the recent enhancement has resulted in an increase of 2 to 5pc in the cost of a housing project. The increase in petroleum product cost also enhances the construction charges especially the increase in the prices of light diesel and the transportation cost has significantly increased. The ABAD office-bearers further said there is a clause of price enhancement of residential unit in KBCA rules & regulations but majority of builders do not increase the prices keeping in view the hardships faced by their allottees. The lapse of the Competition Commission Ordinance have also provided a free hand to cement manufacturers and it is feared, as in the past, cartelisation will take place to increase the cement prices. ABAD office-bearers have appealed to the president and prime minister to convert Competition Commission Ordinance into an Act of the Parliament. Similar steps should be taken to check the prices of steel and petroleum products so that the increase in construction activities can boost the business of industries allied to construction sector. ABAD has demanded that maximum incentives and benefits should be given to construction sector in order to put the derailed economy of the country back to its track.