LAHORE - With prolonged electricity loadshedding and five-day gas supply suspension in one week, the Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers & Exporters Association (Prgmea) has sought the level playing field for value-added textile industry of Punjab, as industries in other provinces are enjoying smooth gas and power supplies, rendering the Punjab industry uncompetitive within the country.

“Punjab industry is trying to cope with growing cost of production because of gas shortages, high electricity tariff and stuck-up sales tax refunds,” said Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association’s (PRGMEA) North Zone Senior Vice-Chairman Jawwad Chaudhry.

“The government should provide level-playing field by raising gas and power supply to the industry to help exporters cut their energy costs and release billions of rupees stuck in sales tax refunds,” he said. According to him, continuously declining law and order situation in the country, followed by lingering energy shortages which has virtually crippled the industry, are the prime reasons for textile exports decline. Besides, negative perceptions about Pakistan and high financial costs are adding fuel to the fire.

“Because of the deteriorating law & order situation and the shortage of electricity & gas, factories are unable to in-time deliver whatever limited orders they managed to procure from their foreign buyers. We are crippled by electricity loadshedding or gas shortage, which reduces our work week to only 3-4 days. Due to gas shortages, mills cannot process our fabric in time and the sewing units simply cannot guarantee on time deliveries of export shipments. With this productivity level we cannot compete with Bangladesh let alone India or China.”

Jawwad Ch said that the business community was unable to understand that instead of taking measures to control line losses and enhance cheap power generation up to capacity, the policies are being evolved to add to the miseries of the business doing people.

He said that the industry needs cheaper electricity to keep the units operational and to complete the export orders well within the given timeframe but only because of the shortage of electricity the exports are not up to the mark.

He urged the government to refrain from any further increase in power tariff that is bound to give a deathblow to its reputation.

He also urged the government to control line losses, electricity theft, and inefficiency in recovery of dues and help stop political interference in the energy sector that has reduced the country’s economic growth. While expressing deep concern over awful prolonged loadshedding, Prgmea chief said that the private sector was engine of the growth and in the developed countries it is facilitated to the maximum but in Pakistan circumstances is quite different. 

The Prgmea SVC said that the government should understand that economic well being is a must for democracy. Unemployment, price-hikes, industrial closures always gives birth to lawlessness and anarchy. Therefore, the government should understand the ground realities and reset its priorities regarding provision of electricity to the industry.