LAHORE: The textile industry has urged the government to spare a third of the total daily new gas production of 300mmcfd projected to be added to the country’s system by the end of this year to the textile sector to allow it to utilise its maximum capacity during winter and onwards.
“If we want to protect our farmers, jobs and exports as well as ward off pressure on the exchange rate when the country starts repaying the IMF loan next Feb, we shall have to exempt the textile industry from sharing gas shortages,” All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) chairman said during a briefing on Thursday.He said the textile industry in Punjab was facing gas shortages of 100mmcfd (or two-day a week supply suspension) resulting in a loss of $4 billion on an annual basis. The textile industry’s gas demand is around 350mmcfd per day.
“We are not against the distribution of energy shortages among all the sectors of the economy.
But the question is that we should manage the shortages in such a way that these do not impact upon our jobs and export earnings. If we can import fertilisers for the farmers and if we can substitute gas used as fuel with petrol we should do so to save the domestic resource for our export-oriented industry,” he emphasised.
The SNGPL has already notified 60-day gas closure for the textile industry between Dec 1 and Feb 28.
“Around 17 million jobs are at risk. One million jobs have already been lost. No investment is being made by the industry because of the gas shortages. The existing mills are not being given electricity connections because of power shortages.
Ultimately, we are forced to close down our mills when gas supplies are suspended,” Gohar warned.
Last year we could not consume 1.6 million bales of cotton because of these shortages. It is time we chalk out a sound plan for exempting the industry from gas shortages or reducing the shortages for it to the minimal during winter,” he said.
The industry also called for reducing interest rates by 600bps to 750bps in one-go on October 8 when the new monetary policy is scheduled to be announced. Seth Mohammad Akber, a former vice-chairman of Aptma, said the textile industry had the potential to turn the economy around if it was assured uninterrupted gas supplies.