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Builders protest ‘high’ prices of steel, cement

KARACHI: Builders are agitating against high prices of steel, cement and ceramics, and have asked the government to protect interests of the general public instead of the industry.

In a statement issued on Thursday, Association of Builders and Deve­lopers (ABAD) Chairman Mohsin Sheikhani said manufacturers were seeking a permanent anti-dumping duty on the import of steel meant for construction.

The government imposed the duty to protect the steel industry when the commodity’s prices dipped to $220 a tonne on the international market.

However, as global steel prices have now reached $480 a tonne, the government has not lifted the duty, and steel makers were capitalising on the opportunity. Local steel is selling for Rs85,000 a tonne against the imported steel available at Rs55,000.

He said cement manufacturers were also making hefty profits by selling a 50-kilogram bag for Rs550 compared to international price of below Rs300. Interestingly, they were exporting the same bag for Rs300, he said.

Moreover, cement makers were also lobbying for more duties on imports, Mr Sheikhani said.

The ABAD chief added that instead of keeping an eye on profiteering by ceramics manufacturers, the government has imposed heavy duties on imports on the pretext of protecting the local industry.

He said these “unjustified” duties on the import of steel, cement and ceramics would hurt the construction industry as well as the common men who want to build their homes.

Pakistan is facing a shortfall of 12 million houses; the number is increasing by 250,000 units each year.

Courtesy : Dawn News

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