ISLAMABAD: Hafeez Sheikh and Abdul Razak Dawood hold a meeting with exporters on Friday.—APP
ISLAMABAD: Hafeez Sheikh and Abdul Razak Dawood hold a meeting with exporters on Friday.—APP

LAHORE: Some textile exporters may have to lay off employees mainly daily-wage workers after most of the orders were delayed for an indefinite period due to lockdown in various European countries.

“More than 50 per cent of our ready-to-shipment export orders have been delayed by importers in several countries especially in Europe, where most of the cities are facing lockdowns due to Covid-19 outbreak,” the Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA) Secretary General Aziz Ullah Goheer said while talking to Dawn on Friday.

The PTEA represents 254 registered member mills involved in manufacturing and export of home textile, fabrics, spinning, garments employing over 500,000 daily-wage workers.

Cognisant of the trouble, authorities moved on Friday to create a package of support polices to help mitigate the danger faced by the industry. A team from textile exporter community spent the day in Islamabad in hectic consultations with government following which PM Imran Khan announced that a package will be unveiled on Tuesday, while the central bank announced relaxations of some schemes for exporters.

In Karachi, Sohail Tabba of Lucky Textiles also said that close to half of his company’s customers had already asked for indefinite postponement of delivery, and they were expecting more in the days to come. When asked how the company’s operation has been impacted by this development, he said the denim unit was down to four days a week and other lines were also cutting output. “More decisions will be made next week,” he said without elaborating.

Bashir Ali Mohammad of Gul Ahmad Textiles also painted a bleak picture. “In a way, a postponement of delivery means the order is cancelled” he said. “In fashion, things change after three months.”

He said the company was still in discussions with those clients seeking postponements trying to see if they could be persuaded to lift at least some of the stock that was ready for delivery. “But we have to manage our relations with them while managing the losses at our end,” he said.

One bright spot, according to him, was the measures being announced by the government, including those by the State Bank of Pakistan which he said will help mitigate the impact.

On the other hand, Pakistan Hosiery Manufacturers Association (PHMA) urged government to announce an instant relief package to help retain millions of workers.

“As the industry is considering laying off workers following the cancellation of export orders, we ask the government to announce a relief package with immediate effect for the workers,” said PHMA Vice Chairman Shafiq Butt on Friday.

He said in the current situation, industry is unable to pay workers due to liquidity crunch amidst non-payment of sales tax refunds. “The industry has also started giving notices to employees, even those working on regular basis for layoffs.”

Published in Dawn, March 21st, 2020