LAHORE - Delay in Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Pakistan has halted the execution of Quaid-e-Azam Apparel Park which has been notified as Quaid-e-Azam Apparel Park Company by the Punjab government.

According to industry sources, LCCI’s former president Shahid Hassan Sheikh, who represents carpet industry, has been appointed the first chairman of the newly-made company while former chairman of the Pakistan Readymade Garment Manufacturers & Exporters Association Sajid Salim Minhas has been appointed as the chairman of Quaid-e-Azam Apparel Business Council.

The Quaid-e-Azam Apparel Park Company has been given the autonomous status and excluded from the ambit of Punjab Industrial Estates Development and Management Company (PIEDMC). The company will also plan to launch several other apparel parks in other cities of the province. The Apparel Park project is of vital importance for the promotion of textile sector and its whole documentation process has been completed while 1,500 acres of land near the Motorway has been acquired for it. Due to establishment of the apparel park, hundreds of thousands of jobs will be created, while annual revenue of billions of rupees will be generated.  Industry sources said that Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif is busy in flood related activities due to which the formal opening of Quaid-e-Azam Apparel Park is pending.

They said that garment sector is the biggest loser due to delay in Chinese President’s visit, as Mr Xi Jinping was to formally inaugurate several garment industry projects and Joint Ventures worth Rs12 billion.  “The Chinese Ruyi Group was set to install a Denim Mill of 100 million metre per day, a Dying Mill of 100 million metre per day, besides launching a Coal Power Plant of 150MW in Faisalabad Industrial Estate, as the company has already acquired 1,000 acre of land there. The real issue is that the plan has got late when every day is important as the buyer is diverting to our competitors.”

Sajid Salim Minhas, the newly-appointed chairman of Quaid-e-Azam Apparel Business Council and former chairman of PRGMEA, said that presently Bangladesh is far ahead of us in garment sector and now Burma, Cambodia and India are our competitors. All these countries have announced to provide land for garment cities to China to start investment.

He asked the government to give a clear time frame to end sit-ins, as majority of export orders are shifting to Bangladesh, Burma and India due to political tension. He said that the country could not afford politics of protests and sit-ins, as the protests in Islamabad are not only damaging the country’s image but also hurting its economy.

He said that the postponement of the Chinese President’s visit had put on hold agreements worth $32 billion, including Rs12 billion projects of garment sector.

PRGMEA senior vice chairman Jawwad Ch observed that the country was already facing energy crisis and it needed huge investment to boost power generation to meet industrial and domestic needs.

The whole government machinery is engaged in political affairs and no one is available to have meetings with industrial bodies to listen their issues. He said the production activities were badly affected, reducing to almost 60 per cent due to the prolonged suspension in energy supplies.

Regarding prolonged delay in payment of refunds, he called upon the government to release stuck up refund claims accumulated into billion of rupees. He appealed the FBR to look into this serious matter and order the release of exporters’ money which has been held up by the ministry of finance for the last several years and has now reached to around Rs25 billion against refund claims of Duty Drawback of Local Taxes & Levies (DLTL, Sales Tax and with the Customs.