KARACHI: The All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) Tuesday May 23, 2023 announced that the textile industry is being compelled to suspend production due to a severe shortage of gas.
Zahid Mazhar, Chairman of APTMA Southern Zone, stated that textile industries in Sindh and Balochistan are either closing down or operating at only 50 percent of their production capacity due to the gas supply disruptions and low gas pressure. This comes despite a 30 percent increase in gas tariffs imposed by the government in February 2023.
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Mazhar emphasized that the gas shortage has created havoc in the export-oriented textile industry, leading to the closure of numerous factories and a significant decline in large-scale manufacturing and textile exports. He noted that textile exports from July 2022 to April 2023 have decreased by over 14 percent compared to the same period in the previous year.
Highlighting the fact that Sindh and Balochistan provinces produce around 85 percent of the country’s total natural gas, Mazhar pointed out that they are being denied their rights guaranteed under Article 158 of the Constitution of Pakistan.
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He demanded that gas produced in these provinces should be supplied to meet their own requirements first, with any surplus then distributed to other provinces. However, the gas from Sindh and Balochistan is being supplied to Punjab, contrary to Article 158. Mazhar further explained that the textile industry is not only facing weekly gas closures for two days but also experiencing low gas pressure throughout the week, resulting in significant production losses, deindustrialization, and unemployment.
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Mazhar stressed that the suspension of gas supply to industries in Sindh, which contributes 52 percent to the country’s total exports, is causing a colossal loss of foreign exchange and revenue. He urgently requested the governments of Sindh and Balochistan to take serious notice of the gas shortage and low gas pressure, directing the Sui Southern Gas Company Limited (SSGCL) to ensure continuous and uninterrupted gas supply to the textile industry in these regions, particularly the export-oriented sector.
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Failure to address the issue could lead to more industries being forced to shut down, causing irreparable damage to Pakistan’s economy and potentially creating a law and order situation due to the unemployment of a large number of workers in these industries.