LAHORE - Taking a big stride to increase textile manufacturing and exports, the Punjab government has decided to set up a state-of-the-art garments industrial estate near Lahore for accelerating manufacturing capacity in this sector as well as to make it more competitive at the international level and a major source of foreign exchange for the country.

The government is also taking solid measures to address energy and other problems of the textile and garments industry as well as encourage the use of information technology in the production of textile items in order to bring them at per with the international standards.

In order to produce quality skill-labour to meet the increasing demand of textile and garments industry, the government has decided to enhance the scope of the Skills Development Programme province-wide. The programme initiated in collaboration with UK Department for International Development was earlier introduced in four districts only.

After complete training under the programme, the workers in various skills will now be presented before prominent companies of Turkey and Malaysia for certification. Under the instructions of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, a core group headed by Adviser Dr Ijaz Nabi, has been constituted to submit within a month solid recommendations for promoting export of garments. The group will hold consultation with all stakeholders in the light of which a comprehensive strategy will be devised. The CM has also announced to formulate a five-year plan for increasing export of garments and development of this sector.

Understanding importance of the textile and garment sector as backbone of the national economy and the major source of revenue generation, the Punjab government has decided to strengthen this sector while meeting its needs and putting it on the modern know-how. Besides setting up industrial forum, the government is also studying the measures to simplify export policy.

While presiding over a high level meeting Monday, the Chief Minister said a vast export potential existed in garments industry which can help enhance investment as well as generate job opportunities. The CM noted that Pakistan is the biggest producer of cotton but it is lagging far behind the neighbouring countries with regard to export of textile and garments which is a matter of concern. He wanted Pakistan to lead the world in export of textile and garments for which he underlined the need for accelerating manufacturing activities. He said that uninterrupted supply of electricity to industries, maintenance of law and order and skilled manpower can strengthen manufacturing sector and government is paying special attention in this direction.

The meeting was also attended by Provincial Ministers, concerned officers and a delegation of garments industry headed by Central Chairman Pakistan Readymade Garments Association Sajid Saleem Minhas and included prominent personalities associated with the industry.

The delegation told the CM that there is vast potential of exports in garments sector and provided solid measures are adopted to meet its needs and hurdles are removed through systematic policy it can hugely contribute to the national economy. The delegation said that garments exports to European countries are expected to increase to $12 billion during next 10 years. They said that China is a big market where garments exports can be increased through effective measures and proper policy.