LAHORE -  On the demand of Punjab’s industrial sector, the Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) has shown its willingness to amend the constitution for supply of natural gas to all provinces on equitable basis and at uniform rate.

Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue Chairman Senator Saleem Mandviwalla, who is a close aide of Asif Zardari and whose statement is considered as a policy statement of the party, has agreed with the industrialists of Punjab that RLNG and system gas should be provided at uniform price to industrial consumers both for captive and processing use across the country at the rate of Rs600/mmbtu as charged in Sindh.

“For this purpose, the change can be made in 18th amendment for the supply of gas at equal rates to also textile industry in Punjab,” observed Mandviwalla during a briefing at All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) office here on Friday. Responding to a query, he said he has no issue with supply of gas to Punjab-based textile industry on weighted average. “We can look into it but the federal government has never taken it up with us,” he stressed. He said the government was least bothered, and instead it was carrying a hostile attitude towards industry. He added that the 18th amendment can also be reviewed to resolve textile industry issues. It is to be noted that under the 18th amendment Sindh has first right to utilise its natural gas, after which the limited quantity of natural gas mixing with RLNG is supplied to industries of Punjab, which is 60 percent costlier than rest of the country.

Mandviwalla announced to convene a meeting on the issues of textile industry where both the government functionaries and Aptma members will be invited to discuss solutions. Aptma Advisory Council Chairman Gohar Ejaz briefed him about the industry issues. Mandviwala said all the issues of textile industry are genuine and the government should immediately form a committee or a task force to resolve them in order to save textile mills from closure, as it would put Pakistan into mess besides giving rise to unemployment.

“They are not being paid their sales tax refunds and facing the imposition of regulatory duty and bank issues,” he pointed out. “It is a sorry state of affairs that the opposition is being engaged to get resolve industry issues,” he added. He said that he was totally disappointed over the hostile attitude towards textile industry. “I am highly depressed after listening to the sad state of affairs of textile industry,” he stressed.

He said the textile mills in Punjab are being closed one after another. “I’m unable to understand this type of politics,” he commented. He said the country ultimately suffers whenever the Industrial activity is down. “Pakistan can be declared as bankrupt if no economic emergency is posed forthwith, as millions of textile workers are unemployed,” he feared.

Aptma group leader Gohar Ejaz called for implementing the “Prime Minister Export Enhancement Package” in its true letter and spirit besides making steps for ensuring ease of doing business in order to make Pakistan’s exports competitive in the international markets.

He said that Pakistan requires export-led for economic growth and stability of the country. He said the textile industry contributes 62 percent in total exports of the country, which is considered the backbone of the economy. He said that textile sectors provided 15 million direct and indirect employments in all four provinces of the country, which has huge contribution in the country’s economy.

He stressed the need for evolving export led policy for economic stability and growth in all sectors of the country’s economy. He said that high energy prices are a major problem for the textile industry especially the spinning, leaving and processing industries. He said that availability of energy at regionally competitive prices is also important.