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ISLAMABAD: Expressing reservations over the proposed closure of Pakistan Textile City Project in Karachi, the National Assembly Standing Committee on Textile on Tuesday directed the Ministry of Textile Industry to sell 250 acres acquired for the project to clear its debt.

The issue cropped up in the wake of a report compiled by a sub-committee constituted on the order of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to ascertain the reasons for over 10-year delay in the textile city project.

The committee came up with a single recommendation to wind up the company which runs the project and return the land to Port Qasim Authority (PQA).

The major stakeholders in the company are the federal government with 40 per cent, Sindh government 16pc and the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) and PQA holding 8pc each.

At a cost of around Rs1.2 billion, an area of 1,250 acres was purchased from PQA for the project. To develop the area by constructing a three-kilometre road, water tanks, etc, an amount of Rs2.5bn was also taken as loan from the NBP.

The debt of textile city stood at Rs2.4bn as a result of mismanagement and corruption, , making the project totally unviable.

On Tuesday, the committee, headed by its Chairman MNA Khawaja Ghulam Rasool Koreja, asked Secretary Ministry of Textile Industry Hassan Iqbal that efforts should be made for making the project operational by involving Chinese/foreign companies.

MNA Abdul Rashid Godil said it will be a disaster in case government closed down the project. “Sindh is already facing huge unemployment and this will further add to the unemployment in the province,” he said.

Mr Iqbal informed the committee that it was difficult for the government to pay Rs0.7 million as interest payment on the outstanding debt.

He said the Textile Board, since its establishment, has convened 65 meetings but failed to come up with a plan on how to return the loan.

MNA Jamshaid Ahmad Dasti said that it was unfortunate that there was no minister for the textile industry which has more than 55pc share in the export proceeds of the country.

As the portfolio falls under the ambit of the prime minister, Mr Dasti suggested calling Mr Sharif to appear before the committee in the next meeting.

However, Mr Koreja said that he was not sure whether the committee has the power to call a prime minister to attend its meeting.

On the issue of gas supply to the textile industry, the committee issued notice to the managing director of a gas company to appear before the committee.

Secretary Textile Industry presented a report on the performance of Plastic Technology Centre (PTC), stressing the facility was in terrible condition and needs to be focused upon.

The committee unanimously agreed that a new campus of National Textile University should be established at PTC in order to make it a profitable organisation.

Published in Dawn December 7th, 2016