LAHORE

All Pakistan Textile Mills Association has called off its August 7 strike to shut industry all over the country, saying the millers might go for strike on Sept 4 if their demands are not met in one month period.

The decision was taken after assurance of the federal finance minister Ishaq Dar to resolve industry’s viability issues by 31st August, said Aptma chairman S M Tanveer. He was addressing a press conference at the Punjab office of the Association after presiding over a general body meeting of the members.

He said the general body of the Association has given him the mandate of calling off the strike for a month.

“We will call another general body on September 4 to decide whether to hold strike for one day or indefinite period in case the government failed to resolve industry issues,” he said.

“I have my full confidence on the pro-industry approach of the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif and the federal finance minister Ishaq Dar,” he added.

He said the Association has decided to defer the strike for a month on the request of the federal finance minister who has constituted four committees to resolve industry issues. “The first meeting of these committees will be held on Thursday,” he said.

He said these four committees have been constituted to tackle textile sector’s issues relating to the ministry of commerce, ministry of water and power, ministry of oil and gas and the federal board of revenue. “Already, we have made a detailed presentation on the industry issues to the federal commerce minister Khurram Dastgir and the standing committee on textile of the Senate,” he said. He said all the participants of these meetings have agreed that the textile mills are being closed down due to the wrong policies of the government.

“The government has burdened the textile industry with Rs38 billion gas infrastructure development cess, Rs78 billion electricity surcharge and Rs65 billion innovative taxes,” he said. “The total impact of this burden comes around Rs157 billion per annum, which is 12 percent of the sales of the industry.”

He said the textile millers were unable to bear this burden and compete in the region. “The federal finance minister has also admitted that the textile industry has become uncompetitive in the region.”

He said the textile exports have increased by 230 percent in Vietnam, 160 percent in Bangladesh, 97 percent in China and 94 percent in India during 2006 – 2013. On the other hand, Pakistan textile industry has registered a growth of merely 22 percent during the same period, which is even less than the world average increase of 44 percent. He said the viability of the textile industry has been challenged because of the undue burden and jobs of 15 million workers are at stake.