LAHORE - Majority of the leather industrial units generally in Punjab and particularly in provincial capital have been closed down due to suspension of gas and power supply to them, as textile industry has been given top priority in this regard. Chairman, Pakistan Tanners Association (PTA) Khurshid Alam has said leather industry is facing frequent gas suspension in Punjab specially in Lahore, besides severe interruption of electricity, which is the basic obstacles confronting by them to achieve production target. Khurshid Alam said that whole preference is given by the government to textile sector only for its rehabilitation in Pakistan, while the leather industry, which is contributing to the countrys GDP upto 5 percent through direct taxes and consumed about 500,000 peoples directly or indirectly, is being neglected. The Chairman informed with deep resentment that despite all vigorous efforts made so far to bring the worst condition of leather industry into the knowledge of all concerned departments to look into this significant industrys problem but nothing has been come out as yet for its redressal. He also added that the leather industry of Pakistan is already towards declining trend of its exports upto 30 percent, which may be expanded if the concerned authorities are not wake up. The Chairman said it has now become impossible for PTAs members to run their factories in Punjab to execute their export orders in time, resultantly to loose their valued foreign buyers in general and country may deprive of precious foreign exchange. Leather is the second largest exporting industry in the country, contributing 5.4 per cent to total export earnings, has now reached the verge of collapse, as its export has declined by a whopping 30 per cent to $863 million from $1.22 billion in just three years. He said that the industry is not able to meet its expenses due to multiple reasons including increase in power tariff by 63 per cent, 70 per cent rise in gas rates and 48 per cent jump in labour cost. He lamented that in 2007 the power tariff was Rs 4.25 and now we are being charged Rs11 per unit along with severe loadshedding. He demanded the uninterrupted supply of electricity and gas, as leather is a continuous process industry and power failure breaks down the process due to which hides are destroyed and various quality issues arise. He maintained that finished leather valuing $2 comes down to 0.5 cents due to loadshedding. He said the so-called exchange rate benefit has been drained out due to 17.69 per cent decline in unit price and increase in chemical costs internationally. He said that increase in raw material prices due to war on terror has also hampered their production, as the war has destroyed livestock in Swat and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He pointed out that devastating flood, as per government statistics, has killed 1.5 million animals. He blasted the smuggling of live animals and alleged the government itself is involved in smuggling, as the officials have fixed the commission of Rs2,000 for cow and Rs500 for goat and sheep for allowing smuggling. He said that due to shortage of natural gas, industry is either closing or switching over to alternative fuels. He observed that in Trade Policy 2009, government has announced matching grants for construction of treatment plants in individual tanneries but nothing was implemented. He reiterated that in a reasonable cost framework we cannot meet NEQS levels which is unrealistic. This should be revised after consultation with industry representatives and experts, he urged.