The All Pakistan Textile Mills Association has decided to observe a black day for industry on Wednesday (tomorrow) by closing down the textile industry all over the country- from Karachi to Peshawar, to protest against what it calls the non-serious attitude of the government regarding industry.

APTMA Punjab Chairman Amir Fayyaz, addressing a press conference on Monday, said the owners of mills in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Lahore, Faisalabad, Multan and Karachi had unanimously decided to close down operations and lay off millions of workers because they had nothing to offer to their international buyers against the regional competitors.

“Prime Minister’s priorities are foreign tours and he is least concerned over declining export and collapse of the industry. We are told by the authorities that PM is going to the US again and exporters will have to wait for another 15-20 days for announcement of relief package by the PM.”

According to him, the cost of doing business in the textile sector has gone very high and the burden of taxes, provincial cess, system inefficiencies and the punitive withholding tax regime have added fuel to the fire.

He said that more than 50 textile mills out of 350 have been closed during the last three months, as the mills could not mange to pay high electricity bills.

“We had earlier decided to go on strike in last Sept but we deferred our plan on commitment of the government to announce incentives for exporting sector, which is pending for the last three months. Due to closure of mills, the country will suffer a loss of $2 million per hour foreign exchange. The Prime Minister should hurriedly announce the relief package for export oriented industry otherwise the shutdown strike might prolong for indefinite period.”

He said the textile industry was vying for reducing its cost of doing business, particularly the cost of energy, which is almost 60 percent higher comparing with the regional competitors. Electricity to the textile industry in the region is not more than 9 cent per kilowatt hour against 14.5 cent per kilowatt hour in Pakistan at present, he added.

He maintained that only the continuity of textile industry operations can ensure exports and employment in the country. There is an immediate need for revival of the textile industry, as the chance of revival would be zero in case the industry is closed down once, he apprehended.

Textile industry group leader Gohar Ejaz commented the textile industry needs a congenial environment to fulfill its international commitments. It is high time for the government to announce textile exports package at the earliest, he said. He urged the government to ensure the availability of electricity and gas to the textile industry on affordable price for competing in the international marketplace.

Gohar Ejaz said the cost of doing business has escalated 15 percent due to the ‘overvalued’ Pak rupee and non-transfer of reduction of oil prices. Consequently, around 35 percent textile production capacity has become impaired throughout the country.

Furthermore, it is also an irony that the federal government has imposed a surcharge of Rs3.60 per unit to mitigate the positive impact of tariff reduction by National Electric Power Regulatory Authority. The textile industry is unable to bear this burden despite operating on independent feeders with no line losses and theft and 100 percent payment of bills, he pointed out.