LAHORE - Salman abduhu - There is no Leather Development Plan in Pakistan despite the fact that country is leader in tanning technology, producing the best leather in South Asia but due to the government bad polices the sector is facing stagnation in its production for the last six years.

This was observed in a letter to Federal Minister of Commerce Makhdoom Amin Faheem written by Pakistan Tanners Association Central Chairman Agha Saiddain.

While presenting overall scenario of leather sector in South Asia in comparison with Pakistan, the PTA central chairman has urged the ministry to focus on development of leather sector, giving it a ‘priority status’ as the sector has potential to double its exports within next three years.

He said that India has announced three major leather development plans, including 10th ILDP with an outlay of Indian Rs4 billion, 11th ILDP with an outlay of Indian Rs9.126 billion and 12th ILDP with an outlay of Indian Rs12.51 billion. He disclosed that after implementation of 12th ILDP, they have fixed a target of $14 billion in next five years with cumulative growth of 24.03 per cent.

The central chairman called for level-playing field for leather sector to overcome present decline in exports, which has the potential to become double in three years from present level of $1.043 billion and can go to the level of $3 billion in next five years.

He said that leather industry exports have recorded positive growth at global level from $80.2 billion in 2001 to $137.96 billion during 2011–12.

In South Asia all countries except Pakistan have recorded positive growth, as Pakistan is the only country where exports of leather sector have declined.

“The leather industry is one of the most important sector having wider benefits because of its role in job creation, linkage to agro and rural economy, poverty alleviation and foreign exchange earner. Pakistan is losing its market share to other countries like India, China, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka and major reason for this is competitive advantage of these countries which is mainly due to government policies and energy crisis.”

Agha Saiddain in his letter stated that in Pakistan, on the one hand, government is deducting 0.25 from all export proceeds as EDS for development of exports and on the other hand subsidy on participation under country banner in major international exhibitions has been withdrawn after three participations. “We are deprived of this facility for the reason better known to authorities, he added. He said that the duty drawback rates in Pakistan are much below than in India, China, and Bangladesh.

There is a mistrust and lack of coordination between industry and the government and for this reason we have failed to evolve any short, medium, or long term plan for the development of leather sector.

He asked the minister to give tanning industry a chance to present its case at Islamabad, Karachi, or Lahore at any place convenient to him.