LAHORE: Faced with severe energy crisis, the Punjab’s textile industry has warned the government of holding street protests if the period of current gas suspension for the industry is extended beyond three days a week.
Talking to journalists after attending a video-conference of textile associations on Monday, head of the Punjab chapter of All-Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) Ahsan Bashir said the industry had decided to take all necessary steps to protect its interests even if it took bringing 10 million workers on roads.
He said that 70 per cent of the textile industry did not receive gas on Sunday after a sudden drop in gas pressure although petroleum minister had assured the industry a day earlier to provide gas at least four days a week.
It seemed, he added, as if the SNGPL was trying to buy some time. “The government must realise importance of the textile industry for the national economy,” he said.
“Textile exports are falling in terms of quantity and it will be difficult to meet export target for the year. Similarly, the mills are slowing down cotton procurement because they cannot operate at their optimum capacity due to gas shortages,” he said.
Former Aptma chairman Gohar Ejaz said the industry was headed for bankruptcy because of energy shortages. “The textile industry forms a major part of the entire national economy and must be treated as a national asset and not as just a part of the provincial economy. “We earn export revenue for the country and not for Punjab alone. We pay our taxes to the federal government and not to the provincial government. If we go down the entire national economy will suffer,” Mr Gohar said.
He said the government would not be able to fulfil its promise with people to provide “Roti, Kapra aur Makaan” unless industries thrived and continued to create new jobs.
“How can one eat or build a house unless he has a job? The government must make sensible decisions to tackle the energy crisis and rationalise gas price for every sector of the economy. It should make policy to ensure prudent use of gas instead of rationing out shortages amongst different sectors of the economy,” he said.
Mr Gohar said the industry had done a great service to nation by setting up expensive captive power plants to produce electricity for running factories.
“Does Pepco have enough electricity to meet growing demand of the textile industry? It does not. How can we operate our plants and protect jobs and exports unless we are given gas to produce electricity!,” he said.
He criticised the gas rationing policy and said the government was risking losing export revenues of $6-7 billion and millions of direct and indirect jobs just to save urea production of just $100 million and provide cheap fuel for Prados and Pajeros of the rich.