ISLAMABAD - Textile sector associations on Saturday emphasised that the government should devise medium to long-term plan in which it reduces electricity tariff by Rs3.53/kWh, withdrawing tariff rationalisation surcharge, GIDC and clear sales and customs refunds in order to enhance exports.

Exporters have shown serious concerns over the latest increase in electricity prices, saying it would further increase the cost of doing business of textile sector and may further hamper the production capacity of export-oriented sector . They demanded to waive surcharges of Rs3.53/kWh to bring the tariff to Rs7/kWh from the current Rs10.5/kWh and gas price to Rs600/mmbtu for the exports sector . The textile associations requested to clear sales tax and customs refunds and extending zero-rating facility to packing material and power looms.

Various textile sector associations have given their recommendations in the 7th meeting of Federal Textile Board, which was held under the chairmanship of Federal Minister for Commerce and Textile Parvaiz Malik and State Minister for Commerce and Textile Haji Akram Ansari. Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi after meeting with the exporters last month assigned a task to the federal commerce minister to come up with a long-term plan in 30 days in consultation with exporters.

The government wants to enhance exports to control the widening current account deficit of the country, which had gone to $3.55 billion during first quarter (July-September) of the current fiscal year compared to $1.63 billion a year ago, showing an increase of 117.3 percent.

The meeting discussed multitude of issues being faced by the largest export industry of Pakistan and the facilitation given by the federal government. Representatives of textile associations appreciated the federal government for providing policy and budgetary facilitations to textile industry of Pakistan, which has resulted in increase of textile exports in comparison to previous year.

The federal commerce minister informed the house that the government has allocated Rs14 billion till date for the implementation of phase-I of the PM’s package of Incentives. He further informed the house that the ECC of the Cabinet amended the PM’s package to further facilitate the textile sector , and now 50 percent of the drawback will be provided without condition of increment, and remaining 50 percent will be provided if the exporter achieves an increase of 10 percent or more in exports during FY2017-18 as compared to FY2016-17. To further facilitate the exporters and to diversify the market, an additional 2 percent shall be allowed for exports to nontraditional markets - Africa, Latin America, non-EU European countries, Commonwealth of Independent States and Oceania. The minister also informed that relevant Notification Order has already been issued by the Textile Division.

The state minister for commerce and textile informed the house that to provide further facilitation to textile sector , short-term policy measures should be taken on priority basis specially rationalisation of energy prices.

The federal minister requested the associations to diversify markets by accessing non-traditional markets for which the government is also providing facilitation. He further requested the associations to encourage new investment feasibility studies should be carried out, come-up with proposals for social and environmental compliance, skill development, research and development, product and market diversification. He said, “Our preparations for the GSP+ review are excellent and in this regard all the federal and provincial departments are on board and very well prepared.” He highlighted various efforts of his ministry to ensure smooth review. He directed the Textile Division secretary to immediately take up the matters with the ministries and departments concerned and also asked the Food Security secretary to examine the cotton imports procedure and early issuance of Plant Breeders Right Rules.

The minister also said that the government has taken bold steps to reduce cost of doing business and in this connection this meeting has been called to finalise the proposals of the textile sector and then he would take up these matters with the prime minister to provide a platform for the development of this largest manufacturing sector of Pakistan.

The meeting was also attended by the Textile Division secretary along with Ministry of National Food Security and Research secretary, senior officers of Textile Division, Commerce Division, Ministry of Industries and Production and Finance Division. The chairmen and senior representatives of member textile associations like All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma), Pakistan Readymade Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PRGMEA), Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA), All Pakistan Textile Processing Mills Association (APTPMA), Towel Manufacturers Association (TMA), All Pakistan Bedsheet and Upholstery Manufacturers Association (APBUMA), Pakistan hosiery Manufacturers Association (PHMA), Pakistan Carpet Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PCMEA), Pakistan Bedsheet Exporters Association (PBEA) also participated in the meeting.