Govt urged to break cement cartel

Staff Report

ISLAMABAD: Leader of the business community and former President ICCI Shahid Rasheed Butt has said that the cement manufacturers have increased prices up to Rs55 per bag that should be noticed by the authorities. Shahid Rasheed said the increase in cement price amid reduced coal price, curtailed interest rates and low demand will hurt the construction package recently announced by the Prime Minister Imran Khan to boost the economic activities.
He said that the move would increase the cost of doing business for the construction sector that can hit projects, jobs and fifty industries linked to this labour-intensive industry. The former President ICCI said that cement companies were already earning very good profits as compared to their Indian and Chinese counterparts, therefore the recent increase cannot be justified under present circumstances.
The government should take note of the situation, discourage cartel in the cement sector, allow imports by reducing regulatory duty, and encourage new groups to invest in this sector, he demanded. Shahid Rasheed said that since cement manufacturing is a very lucrative business, some leading groups have been trying to enter this business but they are pushed back through red tape and other barriers so that existing companies continue to enjoy the windfall.
He said that this is shocking to note that limestone is in abundance in Pakistan and its proven reserves are enough to cater domestic demand for two centuries but it is still impossible to establish a new cement plant especially for those who do not have an existing stake in the industry. The government was already taking steps against cartels and mafias like sugar, wheat, IPPS etc. and now the cement sector must face consequences of their deeds, the business leader added.