FAISALABAD, Oct 31: Textile exporters have apprehended that the proposed gas suspension plan will sound the death knell for export-based industry.

The entrepreneurs have rejected the industrial gas curtailment plan demanding a complete exemption from gas loadshedding during winter season.

These views were expressed by representatives of textile exporters, Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Pakistan Hosiery Manufacturers Association, All Pakistan Bedsheet and Upholstery Manufacturers Association, and All Pakistan Textile Sizing Association at a meeting held at the Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA) office on Thursday.

PTEA Chairman Sheikh Ilyas Mahmood said gas curtailment for textile industry would affect production and result in unemployment. “The government needs to show political will to keep the industrial wheel moving and protect millions of textile workers from joblessness.”

He said textile industry would only truly exploit the market access granted by EU, if it would be provided with consistent gas supply. “Industrial gas supply should be prioritised in a situation when the country is already passing through a severe energy crisis. Globally the industry is being given a top priority whereas in Pakistan situation is otherwise and the sector is not on priority list.”

He said textile industry earned over $3 billion from exports with 40 per cent gas supply in July-September period and if enabled to operate uninterrupted, it had the potential to add another $3 billion export to the country.

Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Sohail Bin Rashid said any decision to cut gas supply would result in halting industrial wheel, abnormall increase in unemployment making it hard to fulfill export orders.

He apprehended that interruption of gas supply to the textile industries for next three months would result in increased cost of production. “The current gas supply of 170 mmcfd to Faisalabad industries is much below their demand of 335 mmcfd.”

He said out of $10 billion Faisalabad contributed $4 billion per annum.

Owing to increase in unemployment of the workforce, law and order situation would further deteriorate in the area, he added.

“We received 60 per cent less order in Heimtex Exhibition, Germany, last year and a bulk of orders was diverted to India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Pakistan’s external reserves are already at a critical stage and any cut in export proceeds might exert immense pressure on balance of payments situation,” Rashid said.

PTEA Vice-Chairman Adil Tahir said it was unfortunate that the stakeholders had always been kept away from issues related to policy making of trade and industry. He stressed the need for taking the stakeholders on board on economy-related issues.

Syed Zia Alamdar, former vice-chairman of Pakistan Hosiery Manufacturers Association, Ammar Saeed of All Pakistan Bedsheet and Upholstery Manufacturers Association and Shakeel Ansari of All Pakistan Textile Sizing Association also spoke on the occasion.