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December 27, 2019

Cuts in gas supply forcing industries to lay off workers

Business

December 27, 2019

KARACHI: Industries in Karachi have started laying-off staff as insufficient supply of natural gas has compounded problems for the sector already struggling due to liquidity crunch, industrialists said at a joint press conference of Karachi industrial towns associations and textile associations.

“We have started dismissing daily wagers while regular employees have been served termination notices,” Chief Coordinator of Karachi Industrial Forum, Javed Bilwani said. He said the sector remained deprived of gas supply for the past 13 days in December, which severely affected the quantum and quality of production.

“We are unable to meet export orders, and now foreign buyers have started asking questions whether we would be able to deliver their orders, as the unavailability of utilities is known to the world.” Bilwani said there was a moratorium on industrial gas connections for the last 11 years, while 2.1 million domestic/commercial connections were given during the same period. “Such an attitude of successive governments clearly highlights the priorities of the authorities,” he added.

Council of All Pakistan Textile Associations President Zubair Motiwala said federal government was taking no practical measures to promote industry, and adding mere lip service would not increase exports.

“Industry is in severe crisis, and there has been no new industry, no expansion and hence no increments in exports. Now we regret that we set up industry in Karachi.”

Motiwala said the industry did not want RLNG, as it was not viable. “We have demanded of the Prime Minister Imran Khan that at least 1,600mmcfd of gas should be given to Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) of the 2,800mmcfd gas produced in Sindh.”

The industry vehemently opposed the proposed price revision in the gas prices saying this would lead to closure of a large number of small industrial units.

Sindh Minister for Industries Ikramullah Dharejo, who also attended the press conference, said Sindh government stood besides the business community.

“Chief minister is aware of the situation and the issue would again be taken with the federal government,” he added. The industrialists said if the gas supply issue was not resolved any sooner, they would lodge formal protest and stage sit-in at the SSGC head office.

It may be mentioned here that Karachi contributes 54 percent of the textile sector exports; and 57 percent of the overall country’s exports. It is interesting to note that Prime Minister Imran Khan is visiting Karachi on December 27, but the agenda does not include any meetings with the business community.