Industrialists and workers’ bodies have strongly resented the gas supply cut for indefinite period and called for an immediate restoration as the industry is the only hope for the revival of national economy.

A joint meeting of the Pakistan Textile Exporters Association, Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry, All Pakistan Textile Mills Association, Pakistan Hosiery Manufacturers Association, All Pakistan Textile Processing Mills Association, All Pakistan Bedsheet and Upholstery Manufacturers Association, All Pakistan Textile Sizing Association and Khurrianwala Industrial Estate Association was held in Faisalabad.

“This unwise move will hit industrial production, affect exports and would be detrimental to the national economy as well as industry,” Sheikh Ilyas Mahmood, the chairman, and Adil Tahir, vice chairman of the Pakistan Textile Exporters Association.

Talking to the media, they said that the gas suspension would cause a loss of Rs1 billion per day rendering thousands of daily wagers jobless. Industry is given gas for just 120 days in running year despite the assurances of the government for maximum gas supply to industry, they said. Textile industry was denied gas for 77 days in 2008-09, followed by 100 days in 2009-10 and 157 days in 2010-11, they added. This strident increase in number of days for non-availability of gas was limiting capacity utilisation, viability and growth of textile industry in Punjab.

“Severe gas supply cut has affected 50 percent capacity of textile industry that has no alternate option to run its operation. To run industry on alternate fuel including diesel and furnace oil is not a viable proposition,” they added. They termed energy shortage as the prime cause of economic instability and decline in industrial growth as 50 percent of production capacity of textile industry is dysfunctional due to energy shortage.

Rana Arif Touseef, chairman of Joint Energy Committee, said, “We have never witnessed the situation in history, as energy shortfall had totally been shifted to the industry. There is acute energy supply cut and the situation is quite mind-boggling for millers. In 14 billion dollars textile exports, Punjab is the major stakeholder with 6 billion dollar share.”

FCCI President Sohail Bin Rashid was of the view that the prevailing crisis was totally matchless in the history and there was no other demand but to restore energy supply. He said that it is very unfortunate that gas officials have failed to ensure relief to the industrial sector, and added that recent spell of gas cuts for indefinite period would render millions of industrial workers unemployed.

PHMA Chairman Khawaja Amjad said that at a time when all the neighboring countries are on the path to rapid growth, the economic situation in Pakistan is getting out of hand. It is not the production loss alone but the loss of export orders has now become order of the day and it is a known fact that foreign buyers have diverted their orders to the other regional countries, he said. In-time delivery of an export order is the prerequisite to win any new order but unfortunately Pakistan’s export-oriented industry is unable to ensure in-time delivery to their foreign buyers because of acute energy shortage, he added.

“Textile sector is the backbone of our national economy that needs to be further strengthened by adopting investor-friendly policies and ensuring unremitting energy supply to export oriented industries,” they said. They called upon the government to take serious steps to endure the industry and focus should also be on the value addition as textile sector need to enhance quality and production capabilities. They urged to restore gas supply to export industries.

During press conference, FCCI President Suhail Bin Rashid demanded withdrawal of the decision to suspend gas supply to textile industries in Faisalabad as it was against the industry, workers and the common public.

FCCI president said that about 2.5 million workers will become unemployed with estimated production and export loss of US$ 2-3 billion caused due to this sudden gas suspension to the textile industries.

He said that curtailment of gas to industries will send a negative message and opponents of Pakistan will get benefit from the suspension which are already trying hard to stop approval of the GSP Status to Pakistan by EU. He said that the gas suspension would prove to be a ‘historic mistake’ on the part of SNGPL and the government.

He said that for winter months of December, January and February, textile industries have reduced its demand to only 100 mmcfd instead of 400 mmcfd to share the shortage of gas with the SNGPL system. This demand can merely be fulfilled by stoppage of gas supply to any Independent Power Producer. The Whole textile industry is in severe shock due to this suspension, he added.

He said textile industry is being destroyed to damage the economy of the country. He said that textile share of Pakistan is only 1.7 percent in the world textile trade and huge potential is available to promote the textile industry of Pakistan. He said in view of GSP Plus Status in the pipeline, such imprudent decisions on the part of SNGPL authorities could futile the GSP facility benefits to Pakistan where textile sector has the largest contribution.

He said that alternative fuel is neither available nor feasible while gas is integral for ‘wet process’ in textile production process. All textile value chain: Ginning, Weaving, Sizing, Hosiery, home textile and even domestic trade will totally collapse, he feared.