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LAHORE: Finance Minister of Punjab, Hashim Jawan Bakht has assured All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) of pursuing the issue of non-supply of gas for export oriented units in Punjab with the federal government at all appropriate levels while admitting that it has caused a colossal loss and disruption to the textile sector.

The Minister was talking to APTMA delegation led by Abdul Rahim Nasir, Central Chairman, Hamid Zaman, Northern Zone Chairman, Karman Arshad, Senior Vice Chairman, Asad Shafi, Treasurer, Umar Latif and Raza Baqir, Secretary General of the Association. Rahim Nasir briefed the minister about disconnection of gas supply to all Punjab based mills despite the fact that the mills have accepted enhancement of gas tariff up to $9/MMBTU till March, 2022. He said non-availability of gas has severally effected production and export of textile products. He also highlighted disparity in gas prices between Punjab and other provinces. He added that upward revision in gas tariff from $6.5/MMBTU to $9/MMBTU has further widened the gulf of price difference.

He pointed out that gas prices in Sindh and KPK were $4.87/MMBTU whereas gas price for industry in Punjab has been raised to $9/MMBTU and gas is not at all available even on the said high tariff. He added that gas price of $4.05/MMBTU in Bangladesh and $5.19/MMBTU in India was also much lower than the tariff applicable to Punjab based export industry.

He said the Regionally Competitive Energy Tariff (RCET) provided by the current government over the past 3 years has yielded outstanding results. The industry has delivered to the nation by investing Rs450 billion in machinery for capacity enhancement as per commitment. This has resulted in an increase of $500 million in exports each and every month in FY22 so far. He apprehended that the new projected investment of $5 billion, setting up of 100 new plants and addition of at least 500,000 new jobs with 90 percent of them in Punjab would all be jeopardized with this sudden increase in gas tariff.

Chairman APTMA also urged upon the Provincial government to take up the matter of non-availability of gas with the Federal Government to enable export oriented industry located in Punjab to continue their operations.

Chairman Northern Zone Zaman apprised the Minister about the problems being faced by exporters due to non supply of gas and sheer mismanagement in the gas distribution priorities. He expressed surprise that gas was not being provided to export industry in total disregard to the fact that country disparately needs to accelerate production to upsurge foreign exchange earnings through enhanced exports.

The Punjab Finance Minister assured APTMA of fullest support from the Punjab Government to make export industry operate on its full bloom and to make gas available to them to continue their business activities.

Bakht said that Punjab government would leave no stone unturned in supporting smooth functioning and growth of export industry to maintain the momentum of upsurge in exports.

He further said that the government has pinned high hopes on the export-oriented sector for creation of jobs and new investment in the country. He said that the issue regarding disparity on energy prices within the country would also be taken up with the Federal Ministries to provide even playing field to Punjab based mills. He committed to frequently interact with the industry and resolved to do the maximum to address issues of the industry.

Kamran Arshad, Senior Vice Chairman APTMA thanked the Honourable Minister in particular and the Provincial Government in general for their bold initiatives in resolving the issues faced by the industry and hoped that with the continued support of the Government, the whole textile sector would make all out efforts to promote further investment in textile sector and upsurge textile exports. He also vowed the commitment of the industry to accelerate economic activities to bring new investment, create more jobs and to foster exports provide energy requirements of the industry are met with uninterrupted supply of gas and electricity at regionally competitive energy tariff (RECT).

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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