LAHORE - All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) Chairman Gohar Ejaz has suggested the government to raise the gas rates, lifting it up to the tariff of electricity, to control gas shortage in the country. Likewise, the government should also raise the rates of CNG gas being used in transportation to the level of other petroleum products including petrol and diesel so that the masses leave the hefty usage of cheaper gas, he recommends. In this way a huge amount of gas will be available for the SNGPL, which can easily be converted to the textile industrial units, proposed Gohar. Addressing a press briefing Tuesday, APTMA Chairman said that a balanced mechanism should be adopted for fixing rates of gas and electricity and maximum relief should be given to the industry so that the wheel of economy should run to boost the growth. He urged the govt to suspend gas supply to power generating IPPs, diverting it to the textile industrial units. He said that textile industry was the second priority of the government in view of gas supply after IPPs but it should be given its due share without any discrimination. Gohar Ejaz urged the government not to renew a Rs8 billion per month contract with four IPPs ending on June 30 this year, adding that the APTMA would adopt future a course of action if the contract was renewed. He said that unprecedented gas suspension to the export-oriented textile industry coupled with high interest rate at 14 percent due to government borrowing has not only jeopardized growth of the textile industry and exports but put the survival of existing industry at stake. He urged the government to prioritise gas supply to the textile industry to secure 15 million jobs and $14 billion exports during current fiscal. According to him, the textile industry is being hit hard due to ongoing energy crisis, depriving the gas supply to the textile units for three days a week. Non-supply of gas has adversely affected textile production mainly meant for exports, as 43 percent of its capacity potential remained non-operative. Sizeable workforce has been laid off due to disruption of gas supply, adding to the unemployment index of the country with every passing day. He deplored that the SNGPL authorities has not been observing equitable distribution of the gas shortage on its network despite clear-cut instructions of five days a week gas supply to the textile industry by the government back in February 2011. He said the textile industry has contributed a billion dollar every month to the countrys exports during last five months because of the interest taken by the government in energy security to the industry. However, the unprecedented supply cut of three days a week has put the industry again on back gear. Gohar remarked that high interest rate of 14 percent due to heavy government borrowing and inflation is a stumbling block for investment in the country. He said the textile industry is ready to undertake further investment as early as it is provided with financial environment conducive to grow. He said the government should reduce borrowing from the banking sector to ensure liquidity available for the industry for productive utilization leading to industrial development in the country. He demanded the government ensure seven days a week gas supply to the textile industry to handle 16 million cotton bales expected in the next financial year. APTMA Chairman Gohar Ejaz said that Pakistan could earn $20 billion in exports next year if uninterrupted gas supply to the textile industry was ensured. He said that he had been demanding the government to ensure free market access which was met and the textile sector earned $3.4 billion.