TEXTILE industry of Punjab has warned the government of severe consequences, including shutdown strike and street protests, if gas supply to it is reduced as per announcement in the energy conference.
The energy conference had decided to further cut down gas supply to Punjab’s industry to supply the same to the Independent Power Producers (IPPs) for power generation in order to mitigate the energy crisis.
The warning was issued by the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) in a hurriedly called videoconference of all zones on Sunday. The textile industry leadership strongly objected to the move and urged the government to immediately withdraw the decision; otherwise, textile workers would take to the streets against it. The meeting was attended by APTMA group leader Gohar Ejaz besides APTMA Chairman Mohsin Aziz, APTMA Punjab Chairman Ahsan Bashir, APTMA Sindh Chairman Yasin Siddique, APTMA Energy Committee Chairman Shahzad Ali Khan and APTMA vice-chairmen from all the zones. The textile industry leadership said the government was likely to reduce gas supply to textile industry for generating 300MW electricity.
It stated that closing down a productive sector of economy would lead to further unemployment and exports loss to the country. It further added that the government was trying to complicate the situation, as only 50,000 tones of furnace oil is required to generate 3000MW electricity but the policymakers were adamant to deprive textile industry from gas availability by taking third day from Punjab and proposing closing down industry in Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunka for once a week.
The APTMA leadership condemned the approach and said the economic team of the government was not giving right advice to the prime minister. Closing down textile industry by cutting gas supply to a productive sector was not the solution, it said, adding that there was a shortage of 6,000MW in the system and taking third day from textile industry in Punjab would only generate 300MW that would not solve the problem. Instead, it would render another one million workers jobless besides causing Rs100 billion loss to the industry, the APTMA leadership said.
All the participants of the meeting condemned the decision vehemently as a cut in gas supply by even a single day per week would infuriate the textile workers. The APTMA leaders expressed shock at the highly uneconomic approach on the part of government and feared that it would be detrimental to the country’s exports, revenues, jobs and cotton farmers.
Speaking on the occasion, APTMA Chairman Mohsin Aziz said textile industry was already operating 40 percent below its capacity that hit exports by over 30 percent at the end of 2011-12 besides rendering one million textile workers jobless across the country. He said the industry had already suffered a loss of Rs500 billion due to the short supply of energy and the size of Non-Performing Loans (NPLs) had become over 30 percent of the total banking sector liabilities against the industry. He said putting the textile industry in Punjab under further pressure would not be advisable, especially when the government was entering election year. Instead of the cutting gas supply to industry, the government should increase supply of furnace oil to power plants to meet shortage of 6,000MW, he suggested, adding that government had never cut gas supply to textile industry in the past to meet the electricity shortage.
Aziz also expressed surprise over the formation of a committee on the subject and pointed out that there was no representation from APTMA in it. He took strong exception of the government’s attitude of taking decision about its production without taking it into confidence.
The APTMA leadership unanimously resolved to oppose the decision and expressed hope that sanity would prevail in the government circles and gas supply to the industry would continue for five days a week as per the schedule. Further, the it also demanded the government increase gas supply to the textile industry for seven days a week so that industry could operate on its full potential to increase exports and to generate employment opportunities in the country.