TOBA TEK SINGH: Faisalabad’s traders and industrialists laid into the government on Tuesday for increasing gas and electricity prices, likening it to suppressing the export industry and creating an enabling environment for importers.

In a joint news conference, representatives of different industrial and trade organisations urged the government to continue policies on special power and gas tariffs to sustain the value-added industry.

They said the government should provide equal facilities to the value-added textile sector of the country for increasing exports.

Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) President Atif Munir Sheikh said the industry was performing much better during the previous government thanks to fixed rates for gas and power for the industry and the “smart lockdown” strategy used by former prime minister Imran Khan to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said the previous government’s performance during the pandemic not only contained poverty but also gave Pakistan the edge over regional countries like India, China and Vietnam, where the industry remained shut amid lockdowns.

Pakistan Hosiery Manufacturers and Exporters Association (North Zone) Mian Kashif Zia and Yarn Association Chairman Jawad Asghar were also present, among several others.

The country could get rid of foreign debts by increasing value-added textile exports, they said, adding that they had no political agenda and only wanted to strengthen the country’s economy.

They lamented raw material prices had almost doubled on the back of a rising dollar, and the government should announce a relief package for the textile industry by taking all stakeholders on board.

They also urged the government to immediately issue a notification of duty drawback on local taxes and levies.

The traders and industrialists said the country’s exports jumped from $18 billion to $32bn during the last three and a half years. However, if the current government increased electricity and gas prices, textile exports — which form a large chunk of the overall exports — would start to decline, leading to unemployment in the country.

Published in Dawn, June 1st, 2022

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