LAHORE: A spokesman of the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association on Sunday criticised the Ministry of Water and Power for ignoring ground realities and destroying the textile industry - the largest employer of 10 million workers in Pakistan.

“The ministry is following the policy of recovering theft and line losses from efficient consumers,” he added.

“The ministry should also avoid sarcastic remarks over the demand for zero-rating regime for the textile industry, as it is a universal truth that the export-oriented industry enjoys zero-rating status everywhere in the world,” he said and added the ministry should understand the export mechanism and be friendly to it in the larger national interest.

The Aptma spokesman said regional tariff for the industry was seven cents or Rs7 per unit while in Pakistan the water ministry had increased it from nine cents to 14 cents or Rs14 per unit by enforcing Tariff Rationalisation Surcharge and levies of Rs3.74, which was actually the ‘theft recovery surcharge’ from honestly paying consumers and the industry.

He said the textile industry had started cautioning the government that it would be unable to sell its products to international buyers if the government continued imposing the tariff rationalisation surcharge.

The export data for July 2015 had vindicated the industry’s concern, as the exports had declined by 20 per cent month-on-month basis, which means two million textile workers would be jobless sooner than later, the spokesman added.

He said the industry was still crying that the electricity tariff was higher against the regional competitors.

The spokesman appealed to the water ministry to avoid giving an impression of ‘government versus industry’.

“Instead, Aptma is highlighting its problems because it believes that this government is for the industry,” he added.

The spokesman said the Aptma had been agitating for a special electricity tariff for the export-oriented textile industry operating on the independent feeders with zero line losses. “Only a regionally competitive electricity tariff can save the textile industry,” he said.

He pointed out that besides ‘unjustified’ burdening of the industry with various surcharges in electricity bills, the member mills were also perturbed over the enforcement of the Gas Infrastructure Development Cess and imposition of punitive taxation on the textile sector, resulting in high cost of doing business.

The Aptma spokesman urged the water ministry not to spoil negotiations between the textile industry and the finance ministry by issuing ‘irresponsible’ statements.

“The ministry should keep in mind that Aptma has deferred its Aug 7 strike for a month on the request of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar,” he added.

Published in Dawn, August 17th, 2015

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