KARACHI: All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) Acting Chairman Zahid Mazhar has asked new Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to place the revival of economy and textile industry on top of his 45-day agenda.
Mazhar welcomed the maiden speech of Abbasi in parliament in which he said that he wanted to do the work of 45 months in his short tenure of 45 days.
“The new premier has taken charge when economy’s condition has reached a very alarming stage,” said Aptma in a statement issued on Thursday.
Mazhar voiced hope that the prime minister would leave no stone unturned for the revival of textile industry and bringing it to its true worth even in the short span of 45 days.
Before becoming the prime minister, Abbasi remained the Federal Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources in the past four years and he knows the core economic issues and challenges faced by the textile industry. The acting chairman of Aptma, one of the strongest trade bodies in Pakistan, pointed out that Pakistan’s trade deficit in the last financial year swelled to an all-time high at $32.58 billion. The country’s imports stood at $53 billion while exports were worth just $20.45 billion – the lowest since fiscal year 2009-10.
He decried that nobody from the government seemed to have taken notice of the continuous decline in exports and aired hope that the new PM and his cabinet would take immediate steps to arrest the drastic fall in shipments.
“Any further negligence or delay will take the economy to a point of no return,” he warned. Mazhar boasted that the textile industry was capable enough to bring the economy out of the current difficult condition. “It can generate employment and at the same time achieve export target of $36 billion provided immediate decisions and policies are made to support it,” he said.
He was of the view that the country in order to survive had to achieve 8% annual economic growth, which was only possible if the government immediately started giving attention to the export sector, especially the textile industry.
He said the textile industry had been hit hard by the high cost of energy, leaving Pakistan’s exports uncompetitive in the global market as the cost of gas and electricity was about 30% higher than the regional competing countries. He asked the prime minister to issue instructions to the Federal Board of Revenue for release of the outstanding sales tax refund claims of over Rs200 billion by mid-August as promised by the previous government.
The industry says it is facing severe liquidity crunch because of the delay in sales tax refund and a further delay will lead to disastrous consequences.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 4th, 2017.