ISLAMABAD - All Pakistan Textiles Mills Association (APTMA) on Friday expressed concerns over the government’s expected move to increase the gas tariffs by around 46 percent.

A delegation of APTMA, led by Aamir Fayyaz Sheikh, has called on Finance Minister Asad Umar. Abdul Razak Dawood, the Advisor to Prime Minister on Textile, Commerce, Industry and Production, and Investment, was also present on the occasion.

Sources informed The Nation that APTMA has expressed concerns over the government decision to enhance the gas prices. They have asked the government to reduce the electricity and gas prices to reduce the cost of doing business. Similarly, the representatives of textile sector have also demanded to release the pending exporters’ refunds. The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has reportedly withheld around Rs100 billion of exporters as tax refunds, which is one of the reasons behind decline in exports of the country during last few years.

According to a press statement issued here, the delegation congratulated the finance minister on assuming charge of the Ministry of Finance and said that the industry hopes that the new government will take decisions in the interest of the industrial sector after incorporating the feedback from the respective sectors.

The finance minister told the delegation that it is his foremost priority to support in any way possible the export oriented sectors of the industry and in this regard all possible cooperation will be provided from the government.

APTMA discussed various issues regarding gas and electricity pricing, proposed withdrawal of customs duty and sales tax on import of raw materials, sales tax refunds, extension of duty drawback scheme for 5 years and maintaining market based exchange rate.

The finance minister assured the delegation of his full support to uplift this export oriented sector on the condition that the sector will fulfill its obligations for increasing exports bringing in much needed foreign exchange and will not in any case be helpful to anyone involved in tax evasion. The minister said that the news relating to increase in gas and electricity tariff has been misreported in the media and so far no such decision has been taken by the government. The minister stated that the Ministry of Finance will fully support the recommendations of Advisor Textile and Commerce in all industry related matters.

Meanwhile, finance minister has also chaired a meeting here at the Finance Division on the issue relating to fertilizer production and its continued availability in the market in sufficient quantities.

The representatives of the fertilizer industry briefed the minister on the production capacity of the fertilizer units and made the proposals for ensuring smooth supply in the market. The minister said that the availability of sufficient quantities of fertilizer to the farmers on affordable rates was a priority of the government and all necessary measures will be taken to that end.