The Cement Manufacturers' Association of Nepal has urged the government to give priority to the cement industry as it has a huge prospect to be self-reliant and can save Rs 10 billion annually.
The government must promote the cement industry because it has huge potential as the country has been witnessing infrastructure development like hydropower projects and housing colonies, that need a huge amount of cement, said newly elected president of the association Dhurba Raj Thapa during the ninth annual general meeting (AGM) of the association, here, today.
Even a small promotion in the sector could lead the country towards being self sufficient in cement and help substitute imports, he said, adding that the cement industry could also be an export sector if promoted with soft loans and incentives.
Despite the import substitution plan of the government, cement import has seen an increase of 28.9 per cent in the first nine months of the current fiscal year as compared to the same period last fiscal year. "The country has imported cement worth Rs 2.94 billion in the first nine months of the current fiscal year 2012-13, against an import of Rs 2.28 billion in the same period of last fiscal year 2011-12," according to figures of the Trade and Export Promotion Centre. "In the last fiscal year 2011-12, the country had imported cement worth Rs 3.47 billion and cement clinkers worth Rs 6.90 billion."
Cement manufacturers also asked the government to end the syndicate in the transport system to reduce production cost.
According to an estimate, the country needs some 4.96 million metric tonnes of cement for public and private sector construction but is expected to manufacture only half — some 2.06 million metric tonnes — cement in the current fiscal year 2012-13.
The remaining 58 per cent will be fulfilled through imports, mainly from India.
The association has asked the government to construct access roads to cement factories and mines as it had promised in the budget a fiscal year ago.
"The government must provide uninterrupted electricity to cement factories," said Thapa, adding that it will significantly increase cement production as most factories have been producing two-third of their capacity currently due to power shortage.About 28 cement factories have been in operation in the country but their quality has always been questionable. "Therefore, big infrastructure projects have been importing cement from India and abroad," according to the association that elected its new executive committee including immediate past president Atmaram Murarka, vice president Manoj Kedia, general secretary Tara Prasad Pokhrel, treasurer Rajesh Kumar Agrawal, and members Bishnu Prasad Neupane, Shobhakar Neupane, Jagdish Agrawal and Jayanta Chudal, during the ninth AGM today.