FAISALABAD: Textile industry stakeholders, including workers, powerloom owners and millers lament that Faisalabad Electric Supply Company outages schedule has worsened power supply situation for the sector this year.

They also deplore increase in the power rates for the industry, saying these factors are causing losses to the sector, resulting in increase in unemployment.

According to them, the industry had to face only four-hour power outages last Ramazan, but this year the duration has been increased to nine hours.

Some entrepreneurs attached with the textile processing industry claim they have been facing up to 15-hour power suspension, resulting in lower productivity and lay-offs.

Ashiq Ali, a powerloom worker at a factory in Ghulam Mohammadabad says prolonged power suspensions mean a severe financial crunch for labourers like him.

Taking advantage of the situation the millers have been reducing weaving rates for workers, he adds.

He says factory owners claim their clients have reduced conversion rate from Rs0.42 per meter to Rs0.29 so they were getting lesser wages.

“I am much worried and don’t know how to earn enough to fulfill the desires of my three children on coming Eid,” he says.

All Pakistan Textile Processing Mills Association chairman Sheikh Khalid Habib says the processing sector was being pushed towards disaster because of 15-hour power suspension daily.

He says textile sector was already in crisis and was bearing nine-hour power outages, hoping smooth supply would be ensured this Ramazan. Instead of reducing duration of loadshedding, he says, the government has added six more hours to it. He says the situation has forced many to close their factories, rendering a large number of workers jobless.

Council of Loom Owners chairman Waheed Khaliq Ramay says Fesco had given power looms nine-hour power suspension schedule – 6am-9am, 1pm-4pm and 8pm-11pm.

He says in last Ramazan we were experiencing only four-hour loadshedding, but this time the government has not only increased electricity rates but also reduced power supply. He says last year per unit rate was Rs11 which is Rs18 now.

Mr Ramay says the issues were brought to the notice of water and power minister Abid Sher Ali at an open court held a couple of days ago. The loom owners informed the minister that PPP government was far better as compared to PML-N’s if judged form the industry’s point of view, he adds.

“We were expecting relief but the situation is going from bad to worse. The government officials are not ready to extend any relief to us,” he laments.

The scenario is also bleak for textile exporters who too were not happy with the load management by Fesco.

Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA) chairman Sheikh Ilyas Mehmood, denouncing the massive power loadshedding and rising shortfall, says the government was ‘torturing’ them by enhancing the tariff. It is sheer injustice that instead of controlling line losses and electricity theft, the authorities were further burdening the sector.

He warns if immediate measures were not taken to ensure continuous power supply to the industrial units, nothing could stop the industrial wheel from coming to a grinding halt and resultant massive lay-offs.

Published in Dawn, July 4th, 2014