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Posted at: Apr 16, 2019, 7:19 AM; last updated: Apr 16, 2019, 7:19 AM (IST)

Cement prices shoot up by 25% in Punjab in two months

Hike in customs duty after Pulwama attack to blame
Cement prices shoot up by 25% in Punjab in two months
Illustration: Sandeep Joshi

Neeraj Bagga

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 15

The prices of cement has gone up between Rs 60 and Rs 75 per bag after the government hiked customs duty on cement from Pakistan by 200% on February 16, resulting in complete halt of cement arrival at Integrated Check Post (ICP) here.

The customs duty was hiked following the terrorist attack on a CRPF convoy at Pulwama in the Kashmir valley in February.

A cement bag which was available at nearly Rs 280 in the open market in February is now being sold at Rs 350. Similarly, non-trade cement, which was available between Rs 260 and Rs 270 per bag, is now being sold between Rs 335 and Rs 350 per bag.

Gaurav Gupta, a cement importer and Indian cement dealer, said: “There has been 25% hike in the cement prices in the past two months, probably the sharpest in the recent history.”

He said after a prolong winter the construction industry commenced operations with the arrival of summer. However, the steep hike in its prices has played a spoilsport.

Punjab roughly generates demand for nearly five lakh tonnes of cement per month. Out of this, around 20% is met by cement imported from Pakistan, which is ordinary portland cement (OPC).

With around 250 units of the inter-lock tile industry in the state, this industry is feeling the maximum heat due to increase in cement prices. 

Sandeep Mittal, an industrialist, said, “A majority of the contracts for supplying inter-locking tiles with the government agencies were signed considering the rates prevalent in the market then. However, the steep hike in the price of the major constituent of raw material has upset the applecart.” He said the extreme rate hike was beyond adjustment and it was negatively affecting the trade. He said some units might collapse if the situation persisted.

Rajesh Singla, another cement trader, apprehended that the domestic cement industries may cut down production, especially of the OPC.  

“The construction cost will swell and it will stretch the prices of end products further, making it unaffordable for people to buy or construct their dream homes,” he said.

Customers with small budget may be compelled to shelve their plans to build houses. Consumers will have no choice but to procure the Portland Pozzolana Cement (PPC) at high price. 

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