LAHORE: Punjab's value-added textile exporters are losing business to their rivals in India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and last but not the least Karachi because of growing shortages of energy in the province."The power and gas cuts for the textile processing industry in Punjab have made us uncompetitive not only in the region but also within our country. Our buyers are shifting orders to our regional rivals or to Karachi on supply concerns," Rana Arif Tauseef, chairman of the Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA) in Faisalabad, told Dawn on Tuesday.
Others say the delays in fabric processing due to gas and power cuts is also affecting the ability of the value-added textile products exporters from the province to ship their orders on time. Dawn
"The energy shortages have rendered us unable to get our fabric processed and dyed on time and deliver export orders on time. Those who try to meet the buyers' deadlines to protect their business relations and future orders have to bear extra costs on airlifting shipments," Ijaz Khokhar, chief coordinator and former chairman of the Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association, told from Sialkot.
He says the entire textile chain from spinning to finished goods in Punjab is suffering huge production losses due to energy crisis.
The processing sector in Faisalabad and Lahore, like the rest of the industry, is facing gas cuts since December 25 due to rising domestic demand on falling temperature. Though the government has restored the suspended gas supply for the industry for two days a week from Monday, the textile processing industry say it is not enough.
"We need continuous gas supply for five days a week to run our factories," says Mian Aftab, a textile processor.
Some of the units had tried to run their processing units on alternate fuels furnace oil, LPG (liquefied petroleum gas), coal, rice husk, wood, etc , but it was not economically viable. "Also, we do not have the infrastructure or technology or money to replace our technology for shifting to the fuels like coal and wood," he added.
The processing industry should be exempted from gas cuts in order to revive the textile chain.
Rana Arif says the cost of fuels like LPG or coal is too high for most processing units in Punjab to bear. "The energy shortages in Punjab are going to cut our exports this year by at least $4-5 billion," he says, adding the industry had faced gas cuts for six months during 2011.
"We do not know what is going to happen to us this year. If the crisis continues, we are going to lose all our business to our rivals," he says and laments that some exporters from Karachi have been seen dissuading foreign buyers at a textile and clothing fair in Germany from placing orders in Punjab. "It is unfortunate that our own countrymen are trying to steal our business," he says.