LAHORE: White lint production in the country remains below expectations, though it is still at least 50 percent higher than the total output of the last crop season, as revealed by figures released by the Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA) for the Nov 1-15 fortnight.

However, consistently lower than intervention prices in the open market are causing concerns about the size of cotton cultivation in the next season, as the government is still dragging its feet on the promise of ensuring a minimum of Rs8500 per 40kg price to the growers.

As per PCGA data, 7.37 million cotton bales arrived in the ginning factories across the country up till Nov 15, which is a record 50pc more than last year’s total production.

During the period, around 3.429m bales arrived in the ginning factories of Punjab and 3.942m bales in Sindh.

Of them, textile mills bought 7.016m bales, including 0.28m bales by a foreign firm, while 0.769m bales are still lying with the ginning factories.

Reports of further increasing gas tariff from January have upset the textile sector, which is already reeling under various taxes, energy costs, and bank markup rates higher than those in the world.

Karachi Cotton Brokers Forum chief Naseem Usman says that the financial crisis of the textile industry is aggravating with the passage of time, as the export of textile products has registered a 6.38pc fall, mainly due to a recession in the local as well as international markets.

Referring to the expected increase in gas and power tariffs, he says it will add to the cost of production and cause a further decline in exports.

Cotton Ginners Forum chairman Ihsanul Haq says that under pressure from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the government is set to enhance the industrial cost of production and make local products noncompetitive in the international markets by increasing the already higher gas tariff.

“At least 50 to 60 percent of the textile sector is already dormant. Now, more mills are also going to close down, due to which the consumption of cotton instead of its production has become a question mark in the country.”

Referring to the increase in the allocation for the Benazir Income Support Programme, he laments that charity funds are being enhanced abnormally, converting the nation into beggars and alms seekers instead of facilitating the export industry through a zero-tax rate and subsidized tariffs of electricity and gas to the disadvantage of the national economy.

Mr Haq says that the cotton sector in the country is suffering from the worst crisis in its history, but instead of reviving it, measures are being taken that are further pushing down the sector.

He says that due to climatic conditions and environmental pollution caused by increasing sugarcane cultivation in Punjab, per-acre yield of cotton in Sindh is continuously increasing compared to Punjab, and reports suggest that per-acre crop yield in Sindh may be 60 to 70 percent higher than that of Punjab.

Published in Dawn, November 21st, 2023

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