FAISALABAD - Textile sector has totally been collapsed due to non-availability of natural gas as the notices of gas closure for indefinite period have been issued to the industrial sector.

Pakistan Textile Exporters Association Chairman Rana Arif Tauseef said this while addressing a press conference along with office-bearers of other stakeholders. He said that indefinite gas closure notices were served just three days after the meeting of textile exporters with Petroleum Minister Dr Asim Hussain, who had assured four days continuous gas supply to the sectors. Government did not take any stakeholder into confidence before taking this drastic action which would not only deprive Pakistan of $14 billion foreign exchanges but also fomenting unemployment and further deteriorating law & order situation in the country, he added.

Rana Arif made it clear that industrialist did not believe in protests and intended to fully concentrate on promotion of business but in this situation, no industry could survive. The textile exporters had invested $17 billion in the industry while the annual income from textile exports were about $14 billion, he said, adding, the industry had potential to earn $25 billion annually if the energy crisis was resolved.

He pointed out that industrialists of Faisalabad were paying salaries to 1 to 1.5 million workers but if energy crisis was not resolved, how they could pay salaries to the workers. This jobless force would create law & order situation which would be beyond the control, he vowed.

PTEA chairman asked the government to negotiate with textile exporters and resolve this issue immediately. He demanded second priority in gas supply for export-oriented textile sector and proposed to pay increased gas tariff subject to uninterrupted gas supply with full pressure across the board. He also supported across the board winter package and said that increase in gas shortage to the export-oriented sectors should be separated from other industries and placed at 5th place on sector wise gas closure plan.

Responding to a question, Rana Arif said the biggest textile fair Heimtextil would be held next month but the textile exporters were in a quandary as to how they could fulfil their export commitments if they got sufficient export orders during this event. In case of no response from the government, textile exporters had option to stop payment of their gas bills, he warned. He said the exporters would make payments of gas bills to Associations concerned instead of paying directly to gas company and the associations would hand over these payments to gas authorities if their negotiations proved successful. He further said that another option was under consideration to defy the notices and run their factories for five days a week as assured by the government.

Later, textile exporters also burned their gas bills to register their protest against notices of gas closure for indefinite period.