ISLAMABAD - At a time when country’s exports are sharply declining due to the deteriorated power crisis, the PML-N government on Thursday decided to suspend the gas loadshedding plan for the textile units in Punjab immediately.

The gas load management plan for the textile units in Punjab has been immediately suspended. Earlier, Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited’s (SNGPL) decision to suspend gas supply to the industrial sector from November 15, 2014 to March 15, 2015.

Decision to this effect was taken after Finance Minister Ishaq Dar’s meeting with a delegation of Aptma (All Pakistan Textile Mills Association) and other textile related representatives. Finance Minister Isahq Dar with the approval of the Prime Minister conveyed instructions to the Secretary Petroleum & Natural Resources to suspend gas loadshedding plan. Instructions were also passed to restore already closed connections.

The delegation apprised the Minister of the difficult situation faced by the textile units in Punjab due to shortage of gas and the impending gas-shedding plan which had been implemented ahead of schedule. The visiting delegation said that suspension of gas supply from November till March would starve the textile industry resulting in huge decline in export earnings. They further said that some units were only using electricity but the majority depended on gas to remain competitive with neighbouring countries and to avail GSP Plus facility.

The Finance Minister responded that the government was cognisant of the difficulties faced by the textile industry and desired to find an amicable solution to the issue of shortage of gas. He said while for now the gas shedding plan was suspended, final decision in the matter would be taken after return of relevant Ministers to Pakistan.

Aptma representative while talking to The Nation welcomed the government’s decision of suspending gas loadshedding in winter seasons.

 He informed already 35 percent of the textile industry was closed, causing a drop in exports worth $1 billion in quantity terms. The industry is apprehended to lose a total of $2.5 billion exports in case the industry remains non-operational during winter,” he added. He said that such a situation would create havoc in the industry, as it would inflict negative impact on the country’s exports.

Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastgir, Minister for Textile Abbas Khan Afridi and other senior officials attended the meeting.