The cement manufacturers have asked for a sixty percent cut in import duty on clinker. They are also seeking a waiver on existing loan interest, to recuperate from the losses they have suffered since the COVID-19 outbreak. “We had zero sales during the countrywide closure in the last two and a half months,” said Md Alamgir Kabir, president of Bangladesh Cement Manufacturers’ Association.

“So for our survival we need the import duty on clinker, the sector’s major raw material, to be brought down to Tk 200 a ton from the existing Tk 500.” The sector relies on clinker to a great extent, said Mohammed Amirul Haque, managing director of Premier Cement.

“Clinker accounted for $900 million of the $1.35 billion worth of raw materials that the manufacturers imported last fiscal year. Due to a lack of mineral resources, local cement manufacturers bring in around 18 million ton of clinker every year.” Most of the factories are now using only 10 per cent production capacity to supply cement to some of the ongoing mega projects. The cement makers pay 3 per cent advance income tax for importing raw materials and 3 per cent tax during sales, said Kabir, also the chairman of Crown Cement.

“To ease our burden, we urgently need waiver on our existing loan interest, as revenues have dried up to a great extent.”

The association made the demand in its budget proposals, which have already been forwarded to the finance minister and the National Board of Revenue. Every year, $3 billion worth of cement is sold, of which about a half goes to government projects, 30 per cent to real estate companies and the rest to individual consumers, Shahidullah said. The rainy season, when demand goes down, is just around the corner.

Roughly 80 per cent of the clinkers which is used for cement production in Bangladesh come imported.

Cement manufacturers import clinker, gypsum, fly ash, and iron slag from China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Japan, Iran, Korea, Malaysia, Oman, and the UAE. The total production capacity of the cement mills was 58 million tonnes in 2018.


Source: The Daily Star

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