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FAISALABAD: Immediate restoration of old electricity tariff for textile sector is imperative to save national exports which were already in declining mode, said Muhammad Amjad Khwaja Senior Vice Chairman, Pakistan Hosiery Manufacturers & Exporters Association (PHMA).

Addressing a joint press conference of the textile sector in PHMA house here today, he said that our total exports were 31 billion dollars, out of which 22 billion dollars are contributed by the textile sector alone.

He said that the share of the apparel sector was around 9 billion dollars which is represented by PHMA and Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers & Exporters Association (PRGMEA). He said that during corona national exports recorded an increase of 37% only due to the pro-industry policies.

He lamented that now exports have decreased to 17% instead of increasing because of the unfavorable conditions and abrupt change in the government policies and energy tariff. He said that the government had fixed the electricity tariff at 9 cents to make our textile sector competitive in this region.

He said that per unit cost of electricity has jumped to Rs. 25-26 due to the unprecedented appreciation of dollar and now withdrawal of notification has further increased it to above Rs.50 per unit.

He said that at this high cost of electricity no industry could be run profitably and warned that closure of industry would open flood gates of unemployment in the country.

He said that this situation would not only deprive the government from the precious foreign exchange but also create a law and order situation due to the increase in the rate of unemployment.

He also expressed concern over delay in the payment of refund claims and said that it is money of exporters which must be paid to them without any delay and hassle.

About recent floods, he said that the cotton crop has been badly damaged due to floods and we are facing a shortage of 5.5 million cotton bales. He said that the government must allow duty free import of cotton on a top priority basis.

Dr. Khurram Tariq, President Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (FCCI) said that the industrial sector was forced to purchase costly electricity only due to the wrong decisions of successive governments. Presenting comparative electricity tariff of regional countries, he said that it is costlier in Pakistan as compared to the other countries. He said that the electricity tariff was fixed in textile policy. “Similarly, former Finance Minister Miftah Ismail had also assured to maintain this tariff for a period of one year”, he said and added that surprisingly it had been changed without any consultation with the stakeholders.

He said that local industry is facing closure while export units have also cut down their production as compared to their installed capacity. He said that the crime rate in Faisalabad has jumped due to the increase in unemployment. He warned that workers would come on the road if more industrial units were closed due to the unbearable cost of electricity.

Replying to a question, he said that a meeting with Finance Minister Ishaq Dar is scheduled to be held on Thursday. He said that if their demands were not accepted it would become impossible for them to stop industrialists and workers from coming on the road. He responded to the questions and queries of the journalists and also thanked them for their cooperation in highlighting the issues of the textile sector.

Arif Ehsan Malik, former chairman of APBUMA, said that the government must consider our problems seriously and solve all the problems of the textile sector soon. He said that we do not have any political agenda but we want to strengthen the sinking economy by increasing domestic exports and for this it is important that all stakeholders are taken into confidence.

Waheed Khaliq Rame, Chairman Power Loom owners Association, said that our industry is also close to closure if the present government does not reduce the electricity rates, not only the workers but also the owners will be on the streets.

Chaudhry Salamat Ali Group Leader PHMA said that the government has to seriously consider all these issues and take decisions in the interest of the country by taking all the stakeholders into confidence. He said that the textile sector is not only a source of valuable foreign exchange for the country but also providing employment to millions of people. He said that if the government does not take timely decisions, the textile industry will reach the brink of destruction and the way back will be difficult.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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