OUR STAFF REPORTER

FAISALABAD

The national-level textile industry organisations rang alarm bells and feared massive closure of industries as a result of gas supply cut or reduction in the existing 33 percent gas quota for the textile sector in the upcoming months.

Addressing a press conference held by the Pakistan Textile Exporters Association, All Pakistan Textile Mills Association, All Pakistan Textile Processing Mills Association and Khurrianwala Industrial Estate Association, PTEA Chairman Sohail Pasha termed the proposed gas closure plan a deliberate attempt to shatter the whole industrial chain. He urged the government to rescue the textile industry, which earns precious forex through exports, from the current state of turmoil. Besides, challenges like energy crisis and liquidity crunch were already holding the mainstay of the economy back, he said.

He expressed grave concerns over the continuous decline in exports, and feared further loss in case the energy and financial crises persisted. He appreciated the efforts of Textile Minister Abbas Khan Afridi to fulfill the prime minister’s vision of economic revival and to double the country’s exports. He acknowledged his true support to remove the obstacles in industrial growth. However, he expressed disappointment over the “disinterested and non-cooperative” attitude of other institutions and ministries.

He said that the declining trend in exports would negatively affect the national economy. He detailed that the country’s exports slid down by 10.16 percent while textile exports dropped by 4 percent during first quarter of current fiscal compared to same period of outgoing fiscal. In July, textile exports were down by 2.37 percent, in August 8.38 percent and in September 1.16 percent, he added.

Aptma’s Naveed Gulzar said that textile owners were repeatedly showing concerns over the situation, but unfortunately the policy makers were turning a deaf ear to their hue and cry. He deplored that the government was not addressing the reasons behind the industrial crisis and the situation may aggravate further in the coming months as the industry in Punjab was in the grip of severe energy crisis. It was not serious in resolving the gas supply issue of the textile industry as it was being supplied to unproductive sectors causing loss in terms of foreign exchange, he said.

Ahmad Kamal, the former PTEA chairman, was of the view that the situation was becoming unbearable for the industry as the constant inefficiency was plaguing the viability of production units. The slash in exports would have dire impact on the economy with already under-pressure current account balance, he said. He added that the textile industry earned foreign exchange and provided jobs to millions of workers. “Textile industry is heading towards disaster due to non-availability of energy and lack of basic working capital,” he said.

Former PTEA chairman Rana Arif Tauseef said, “We have already forewarned about the crisis through several calls but no heed was paid to the problems of the industry. Resultantly, not only exports of the country dropped but we are also losing hard-won export markets. Around 30 to 40 percent working capital of textile exporters is already stuck-up in the refund regime creating severe liquidity crunch. Energy shortage has chucked the Punjab industry in a bottomless crisis and resultantly jobs of about 1 million workers are in danger. In this situation, the future of GSP plus seems to be dark.”

The industry representatives urged the government to take steps to save the sector from disaster as challenges like energy crisis and liquidity crunch were holding it back from growing up to the full potential. They demanded uninterrupted energy supply to the Punjab industry and immediate release of stuck-up capital to textile exporters.