LAHORE

The value-added textile industry, rejecting the move of merging Textile Division into the Commerce Division, has demanded the government to appoint textile minister immediately, as major decisions regarding textile policy implementation, Export Development Fund and budget preparation exercise for 2015-16 are being delayed as the tenure of Abbas Afridi as textile minister has expired and thus the post is vacant. Uncertainty is negatively affecting the whole textile sector which contributes more than 54% share in total exports of the country.

The industry representatives said that textile has become the most important sector especially after grant of the GSP Plus status by the EU countries, as 80% items, having free market access, relate to this sector and it needs an extraordinary focus.

Ijaz Khokhar, PRGMEA chairman, asked the government to appoint Haji Akram Ansari, the sitting MNA of the PML-N from Faisalabad, as the federal textile minister, as he has a vast experience of textile industry.

“Akram Ansari, the former chairman of Standing Committee on Textile, during the previous government tenure, proved himself as a dedicated and honest personality. The former textile body chairman is the most suitable person to head this important ministry, because he is among the few who have no allegations of any kind of financial scam and the whole textile sector poses full confidence on his leadership.”

All the regional competitors including India, China and Bangladesh have separate ministries of textile and Pakistan must follow the suit. They said that the experiment of textile and commerce ministry merger failed twice in the past.

PRGMEA strongly feels if the Ministry of Textile Industry is given full powers, it can alone, in consultation with the stakeholders, reduce trade deficit by enhancing textile exports sharply, observed Ijaz Khokhar. Pakistan is the world’s fourth largest producer of cotton but unfortunately it is known as the exporter of raw cotton mainly due to bad policies which are constituted without involvement of real stakeholders. On this occasion, the central chairman also said that with strict import policies in Pakistan, the local garment industry is not fully prepared to take advantage of duty-free access to the EU market under GSP Plus status mainly due to shortage of raw material.

Ijaz Khokar said that the government has to relax import policy to empower value-added textile industry to get the maximum benefit of GSP Plus Status, as the country has no raw material except cotton.

PRGMEA vice chairman Malik Naseer said that our competitor Bangladesh is enjoying duty-free import of every raw material. As a result, Bangladesh value-added textile exports have surged to $26 billion without producing a single bale of cotton while Pakistan has never crossed the garment export figure of $4.5 billion. PRGMEA vice chairman said that if the country starts converting 50% of its total cotton of around 14 million bales into value-added products, it can fetch $42 billion in exports. In case of 100% consumption of raw material, the country can earn $84 billion.

Malik Naseer said that the Ministry of Textile Industry was established on the demand of the textile sector, which is the backbone of the economy with a share of 54.63% in total exports. The government cannot neglect this sector, which provides 42% of total employment in the country. After the establishment of textile ministry, the industry had initially flourished and exports got a boost but later the ministry encountered difficulties to implement textile policies due to lack of powers, he added.