ISLAMABAD - Despite the claims recently made by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to provide gas to the textile units, the government on Tuesday failed to evolve a strategy to provide uninterrupted gas supply to the sector to end the miseries of the industrialists.

The textile sector of the country has been confronting the longstanding issue for several years. Taking an initiative, the prime minister vowed to resolve the gas crisis without realising the ground realities because gas is reportedly not available for the industrial sector.

The government last week announced to provide uninterrupted gas supply to textile units on the demand of All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA). Later, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif constituted a committee to resolve the textile industry’s issue of gas shortage in Punjab during the winter.

However, sources in the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources said the government could not meet the gas needs of the textile industry. Otherwise, the government would have to start the gas loadshedding for the domestic sector, they added.

The meeting, with Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar in the chair, was not able to devise a strategy and decided to call Aptma representatives at the next meeting for their suggestions.

An Aptma representative, while talking to The Nation, disclosed that 35 percent textile units had already been closed, causing a drop in exports worth $1 billion. “The industry may lose a total of $2.5 billion exports in case the industry remains non-operational during the winter,” he said. He observed such a situation would play havoc with the industry as it would inflict a negative impact on the country’s exports.

According to an official handout, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar chaired the meeting of the Special Committee constituted by the prime minister to look into the issue regarding gas supply to textile units in the Punjab. Ministers for Petroleum and Natural Resources, Water and Power and Textile Industries, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Kh Muhammad Asif and Abbas Khan Afridi, respectively, were also present.

Water and Power Minister Kh Muhammad Asif said the government was prepared to ensure uninterrupted power supply to the textile units, which would help them sustain production. Petroleum Minister Khaqan Abbasi opined it was a stark reality that there was shortage of gas for even domestic consumers and it would be difficult to supply gas to textile units under the circumstances.

The representatives of Aptma and other textile-related units told the finance minister that gas was needed for all the value-addition processes which were the major part of textile production. The use of electricity was mainly focused on initial phase of spinning and some other minor routines, they added. Ishaq Dar, at this juncture, said the committee would have to find a way out of this stalemate. The minister also invited the Aptma and other representatives to come up with their own suggestions. The future course of action to settle this issue would be discussed at the next meeting of the committee.

Meanwhile, the finance minister asked the relevant authorities to maintain the supply of gas to textile units until a solution was reached.

It may be recalled that, taking cognizance of the problems faced by the textile units in Punjab due to shortage of gas, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, with the approval of the prime minister, had issued instructions through the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources, to suspend gas load management plan earlier last week. The prime minister consequently constituted a committed headed by Senator Ishaq Dar to resolve the issue.

GOVT WILL CUT OFF CNG SUPPLY IN 2015

NNI adds: Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Tuesday said that the government would cut off the supply of Compressed Natural Gas to the CNG stations in Punjab next year.

He expressed these views at a seminar of the National Assembly's Standing Committee on Petroleum.

Briefing the committee, Secretary Petroleum Abid Saeed said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has withdrawn the restriction imposed on gas supply and the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority would increase the gas tariff for the new scheme. He said that the CNG sector would import the gas and then sell it, and it would remain 35 percent cheaper than the petrol. He also said that the investors have shown interest in the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and the government would incorporate two billion cubic feet gas into the system. He said that a summary has been sent to the Council of Common Interest (CCI) to reduce the LPG price.

Saeed said that the government would decide a price of the LPG according to the new policy and it would be cheaper and in the buying capacity of the public. He also said that measures are being taken in Kohat for infrastructural development and minimising gas thievery.

Sui Southern Gas Company General Manager Ijaz Ahmed said that gas thievery worth around Rs3 billion was caught last year and as many as 2600 customers were reported to be using the gas illegally. He said that Rs1 billion have been recovered so far. Ahmed also said that it is impossible to give gas connections in a few colonies in Karachi, whereas the gas connections in the Shah Abdul Lateef Colony are underway.

The Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL) official informed the meeting that 6 new gas reserves have been found in different part of Sindh and the production of 120 million cubic feet gas would start in December.