ISLAMABAD - The Senate Standing Committee on Textile Sector here on Tuesday expressed its concern over the downward trend of cotton production in the country.

“The export oriented cotton crop, 80 per cent of which is being used for the value added products to be exported, has seen sharp decline since last year which should be stopped by taking special measures in this regard”, Senator Mohsin Aziz said while presiding over the committee.

He said due to the fact that the cotton growers were not receiving fair price against their product, they were converting to other cash crops like maize and sugarcane. He said this trend would help further reducing the exports of the country.

He said the textile industry was crippling due to the non-existence of any solid policy in the textile sector. The committee was informed that last year the cotton production in Punjab witnessed decline of 43 per cent compared to the preceding year mainly due to unprecedented rains in the area.

The committee was informed that in Punjab, cotton was being cultivated on 430,000 acres land this year as compared to the area of 540,000 last year which shows that in the next season the production would further fell.

Textile industrialist, Akbar Seth who was invited as special guest in the committee claimed that last year, the growers had to face Rs 22 billion loss due to price variation in the open market. He said the per acre cotton yield is the lowest in Pakistan compared to other regions mainly due to the fact that there was no genuine seed company in Pakistan. He said the government should focus on introducing latest seed technology and certified seeds should be distributed to the growers in order to increase per acre yield.

He said cotton cultivation area in Pakistan was decreasing while it had increased three fold in India.

Cotton Commissioner in Ministry of Textile Industry, Khalid Abdullah however informed that there were about 750 registered seed companies in the country who were providing the cotton growers 50 per cent certified cotton seeds while the remaining demand was being met by sowing uncertified seeds. He said in Pakistan, obsolete first generation seed technology was being used while the world had shifted to the 3rd generation seed technology.

He said in order to introduce the latest seed technology, a Plant Breeder Right Act was pending in the National Assembly for last 10 years.

Senator Khushakht Shujat expressed her concern over the non-serious attitude of the concerned authorities towards the most important sector of the country.

Earlier, the committee recommended the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to review the 5 per cent duty on import of cotton as it should be included in the zero-rated regime keeping in view the shortage of raw cotton in the country.

Chairman FBR, Nisar Muhammad Khan said that the import duty on raw material being used for textile industry was entitled to refund.

But, Chairman of the Committee said that refund claim was a complex process therefore it should be zero rated.

The FBR Chairman informed the committee that the Board had taken several measures to simplify the refund system. The committee was also attended by Senator Hamza and other

senior officials of the textile minister and FBR.