Punjab textile groups to mark Dec 6 as black day

Published: November 29, 2016

FAISALABAD: Scores of associations of textile manufacturers have announced they will observe December 6, 2016 as a black day in a bid to register their strong protest over discrimination against the Punjab industry in gas prices, a key input.

The disparity in gas prices had shattered the entire industrial chain in Punjab, they said in a meeting held on Monday.

All the trade bodies including the Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA), Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) and All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) lashed out at what they said was the government’s discrimination against the Punjab-based textile industry as it was bearing the brunt of gas shortage.

PTEA Chairman Ajmal Farooq said the industries in Sindh were consuming low-priced gas to meet their needs whereas Punjab industries, which generated the highest revenue, were compelled to use the expensive re-gasified liquefied natural gas (RLNG) in their production process.

With the recent reduction in the industrial gas tariff, the price for Sindh industries has become Rs400 per million British thermal units (mmbtu) whereas Punjab industries are paying over Rs900 per mmbtu for RLNG.

“With a huge difference of 120% in gas prices how can we survive? This is unjust,” Farooq said.

Expressing disappointment over the indifference and lack of cooperation from government institutions, he said they were repeatedly voicing their concern over the situation but all of the hue and cry was falling on deaf ears of the policymakers.

He urged the prime minister to take notice of the discrimination and ensure gas supply to the industries of Punjab at the same price.

He also called for immediately announcing the long-awaited prime minister’s package for the ailing textile industry and the supply of electricity to industries at Rs7 per unit to enable them to compete well in the international market.

He announced that if the government did not fulfill their demands, they would hold a massive protest.

FCCI President Sheikh Muhammad Saeed criticised the government for not tackling the industrial crisis, saying the situation could be more alarming in coming months as 50% of the industrial capacity in Punjab had remained unutilised.

Aptma’s Naveed Gulzar said the policymakers were not serious about resolving the issues of textile industry and the situation was worsening day by day. He demanded that equal industrial gas tariffs should be applied across the board.

Aptma chief Muhammad Saeed was of the view that the situation was becoming unbearable for the industry and it was a constant source of inefficiency plaguing the viability of producing units.

“A further drop in exports would have dire impact on the economy which is already under pressure,” said Saeed. “The textile industry is the premier industry earning foreign exchange and providing jobs to millions of workers but it is heading towards disaster due to the high cost of energy and lack of basic working capital.”

All Pakistan Cotton Power Looms Association Chairman Abdul Haq said, “we had continuously forewarned about the crisis but no heed was paid towards the problems of the industry. Resultantly, not only have the exports dropped but we are also losing the hard-won export markets.”

Published in The Express Tribune, November 29th, 2016.

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