LAHORE -  The All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) leadership has warned of rapid de-industrialisation in Punjab due to the energy price disparity and liquidity crunch, saying that an immediate intervention of the government has become imperative to save exports and jobs.

APTMA Central Chairman Aamir Fayyaz held a press conference after presiding over an emergent general body meeting at the APTMA Punjab office on Wednesday. Group leader Gohar Ejaz, Vice Chairman Ali Pervez and APTMA Punjab Chairman Syed Ali Ahsan were also present on the occasion.

APTMA Chairman Aamir Fayyaz said the trade gap has touched the alarming level, which could only be dealt with strengthening the exports. He said the Punjab-based textile industry has been crippled due to high cost of doing business, particularly the energy cost, both domestically and regionally.

“The government should take measures to enhance exports by 10 percent to the GDP. The overall exports have dropped by $5 billion while the textile industry capacity worth $4 billion has been closed due to its incompetitiveness,” he added.

He said the government has not released funds for Rs180 billion export package till date. “The Ministry of Finance has to disburse it in 18 months, ie Rs10 billion per month since January 2017,” he said. He also urged the finance ministry to allocate funds and direct the State Bank of Pakistan to disburse it among the textile exporters.

He lamented that the sales tax refunds RPOs worth Rs25 billion have been issued but no payment has been made to the claimants. He further urged the government to ensure Rs600 per MMBTU gas price inclusive GIDC and Rs7 per kilowatt hour electricity price for textile industry across the country to end the energy price disparity within the country.

Speaking on the occasion, APTMA group leader Gohar Ejaz said a rapid de-industrialisation is underway in Punjab where 33 percent of the textile industry capacity has been closed due to Rs100 billion energy price disparity. “The Punjab-based textile industry is a direct victim of this disparity that can only be done away with by implementing a unified energy price for the textile industry across the country,” he added. He said this step will also boost investors’ confidence, particularly in Punjab.

APTMA Vice Chairman Ali Pervez said the present balance of payment position is vulnerable as the debt to export has already crossed three times and it demands immediate revival of closed textile industry capacity to increase exports and controlling the gap between the debt and exports.

APTMA Punjab Chairman Syed Ali Ahsan said more than 70 percent of the textile industry is located in Punjab where the energy price disparity has hit hard its viability. He urged the government to withdraw Rs3.63 surcharge on electricity tariff, saying that the burden of electricity theft and poor recovery in the shape of surcharge was hampering exports growth by and large. “Exporters cannot pass on this inefficiency to its international buyers,” he added.