ISLAMABAD

After a delay of around four months, the government on Monday finally announced textile policy 2014-19, promising to spend around 64.15 billion under different schemes to boost textile sector of the country in next five years.

Federal minister for textile industry Abbas Khan Afridi, while addressing a press conference at the committee room of his ministry, jam packed with media, announced the salient features of the new policy briefly mentioning some new schemes and incentives for the sector.

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Afridi flanked with Secretary and Director, Knawar Usman, explained that for next five years his ministry has allocated only 65 billion as compared to last allocation of 1.88 billion, out of which only 28 billion was released during last five years.

Considering the tight situation of national kitty, we have allocated the amount which could actually be spent on the uplift of the sector and which not only remain on papers, Afridi said, adding, the finance division will provide Rs 40.6 billion, whereas the rest Rs 23.5 billion will be financed through Planning Commission and Textile Development Fund.

He announced some new schemes including drawback of local taxes and levies, reduction in markup rate from 9.4% to 7.5% under export refinance scheme, long term financing facility for technology up gradation at the rate of 9%, and duty free import of machinery and vocational training.

During his address he vowed to some new ambitious targets, stating that his ministry would focus on value addition and would explore new markets.

We would not limit to Europe only but would focus Russian and Chineses markets also, an in next five years, we would increase exports from 13 billion present to 26 billion dollars, he said.

He admitted that in last five years plan the target was missed by a large margin.

We had power issues, which we solved somehow, and in new policy we would make sure that ample electricity and gas is provided to the textile industry, so that the industries run on maximum potential, and with value addition our workforce earn money, he said.

Secretary textile industry Amir Marwat apprised that the textile policy 2014-2019 aims to double value addition from $ 1 billion per million bales to $2 billion per million bales in next five years, double the textile exports from $13 billion to $ 26 billion, facilitate investment of additional $5 billion in machinery and technology, improve fiber mix in favour of non-cotton i.e  from 14%  to 30%, improve product mix especially in garment sector from 28%  to 45%,  promote use of ICT , development and strengthening of clusters.

The officials further briefed that Rs 40.6 billion have been reserved for incremental DLTL, Technology upgradation Fund, Brand Development Fund and drawback on deemed import basis, for next five years.

Planning commission would cater for the rest Rs 23.40 billion  through PC-1 to be allocated for skill development of hand loom workers, textile exhibition , hand knotted carpets , hand knotted carpet training , SME, trainings, product development & innovation fund , skill development program, textile universities, world textile centre, weaving city, mega and minor cluster development and better cotton initiative.

Textile industry is the most important manufacturing sector of Pakistan and has the complete production chain with inherent potential for value addition at all stages of processing. Textile sector provides employment to about 40 % of industrial labour force, consumes more than 40% banking credit and accounts for more than 8% of the GDP.

During the press conference the minister had no answer when media pointed out that along with shortage of electricity and gas, the textile units were under severe threat from the gangsters, who were extracting huge amounts as “bhatta” from different units all across the country.

I can only say those textile owners should not be afraid of the gangsters and they should only fear God, he said, adding, providing protection to business as well as textile is the responsibility of the state.

The poor law and order situation in the country is one of the major hurdles for local business. According to a joint investigation report, failing to pay extortion money, gangsters put  a garment factory in Baldia town Karachi, the biggest cosmopolitan city of the country, on fire, killing more than 280 factory staff and workers.