LAHORE - The All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association (APCMA) has urged the government to keep its promise and gradually reduce federal excise duty (FED) to ‘zero’ to encourage cement off-take, saying it would support housing and infrastructural development of the country and create more employment.

The spokesman of APCMA said that cement industry is among the highest contributors to the national exchequer over the last few years. The contribution has increased to Rs 117 billion in 2016-17 from Rs 39 billion in 2012-13. During the year 2016-17, per ton impact of duties & taxes was Rs 3,082/- i.e. Rs 154 per bag. This incidence of high taxation negatively affects domestic consumption. Presently, FED on cement is Rs 1,250 per ton i.e. Rs 62.5 per bag.

The spokesman, attributing domestic growth in the sector to the policies of the government and its thrust on mega infrastructure projects, said that the local production could increase substantially if the smuggling of this commodity from Iranian border is checked. Moreover, he appealed to the government to eliminate the mafia that is bringing in Iranian cement at engineered low rates to save government levies including sales tax.

“Iranian cement would not be able to stand against Pakistani cement in quality and price if the import rules are strictly followed. Customs duty on import of both clinker and cement should increase to a uniform rate of 35pc in order to support the local cement industry. Moreover, import of cement should not be allowed until Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority certifies the quality of cement being imported into the country,” he added.