Change needed: Textile minister wants diversion of gas from CNG to industry

Says current policy is hurting the industrial sector.

Our Correspondent May 02, 2014
The Punjab-based textile industry is continuously affected by the energy crisis. PHOTO: FILE

LAHORE: Federal Minister for Textile Industry Abbas Khan Afridi has said that the current policy of the provision of gas to Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) stations is hurting the industry and should be reviewed.

The minister said that gas provision as means to be a cheaper alternative to fuel for the masses is not an industrial-friendly practice.

“CNG should be provided for public transport only, while the rest of the gas should be diverted to the industries,” said Afridi as he addressed media at the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association house. “We are currently working on trying to have this policy changed,” he added.

The Punjab-based textile industry is continuously affected by the energy crisis, though the duration for the provision of gas has been increased by two hours recently, and currently the industry is being provided with 8 hours of gas daily.

The industry players still believe that during the summer the quantity of gas provided by Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited to the textile sector is not enough to carry the industry’s momentum — especially after the Generalised System of preferences (GSP) Plus status, which has injected new life in the textile sector of the country. Mills in Punjab are closing down at a faster pace, and the operating mills have curtailed one shift due to increasing energy crisis.

“The textile industry is the backbone of our country as currently it is providing employment to 40% of the Pakistani workforce,” Afridi said. “We have to support our textile strategy and align every stakeholder of this industry at one table to resolve internal issues.

“I want to address the concerns of everyone, right from the cotton seed manufacturer to the value-added sector in order to boost exports,” he said. “If exports rise, then definitely the employment percentage in this industry will also rise while creating more opportunities.”

Afridi was of the view that unlike India and Bangladesh, Pakistan was not able to realise its textile industry potential. The other two countries have successfully used this opportunity to eliminate unemployment and made a positive impact to their overall economy, he said.

“Pakistan’s textile sector needs to change its perception from the cheapest textile producers to being the best quality product producers. For this we need improvement in our value-addition sector, which I believe is the key to maximise our exports,” said the minister.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 3rd, 2014.

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