Cutlery industry on the verge of closure

OUR STAFF REPORTER SIALKOT - The cutlery manufacturers and exporters have expressed grave concern over the worst energy crisis, aggregating day by day in export-oriented Sialkot city. They said that the 'unending prolonged power and gas outages have badly affected the industrial production of cutlery industry, due to which, hundreds of workers were losing jobs in Wazirabad and Sialkot on daily basis, as most of the cutlery items manufacturing industrial units had already closed their two out of total three shifts, while the third shift was on the verge of closure by 18 hours-long unscheduled loadshedding of power. Pakistan Cutlery Manufacturers Association Chairman Muhammad Khalid Mughal told the newsmen that as many as 25,000 industrial workers and artisans were providing the skilled force to more than 400 cutlery manufacturing units. He said that Pakistans cutlery industry has a great potential to explore and capture the new international trade markets. He said that the proper governmental patronization was direly needed for boosting and flourishing this industry, as the cutlery exports from Pakistan could be doubled from existing $100 million. He said that the government had recently released a special grant of Rs39.5 million for cutlery industrys upgradation and bringing advanced technology to this industry, as the SMEDA had already announced to provide the trained skilled labour force to the cutlery industry under skilled labour training programmed in active collaboration with the Cutlery Institute of Pakistan, enabling this industry to meat the global challenges under the WTO regime. SMEDA had already announced to spend soon a hefty amount of Rs 23 million on the development of Cutlery Cluster Center Wazirabad. The cutlery manufacturers and exporters (including Muhammad Khalid Mughal Chairman Cutlery Association) stressed upon the need of bringing Chinese experts here to give the advanced technical training and guidance to this industry, as the foreign experts this training would also be helpful in the minimizing the cost of production of the cutlery instruments to a great extant, in this regard. They pointed out that the China was the biggest ever cutlery exporting country of the world, having the advanced cutlery technology. They also demanded immediate establishment a Model Cutlery Manufacturing Unit at Wazirabad in public-private sector collaboration. They pointed out that there was a 40 percent decline in cutlery instruments exports during the first quarter of 2011 which dropped to $ 60 million from $100 million due to lacked government patronage and inordinate delay in the provision of prolonged promised facilities to the cutlery manufacturers and exporters. Expressing grave concern over this great decline in cutlery exports, they urged the government to ensure the early provision of long-term business loans for them, besides, establishing a bank of raw materials at Wazirabad (a hub of producing the world class cutlery instruments) and it should be declared as City of Cutlery as well. Later, talking to the newsmen here, Chairman Cutlery Manufacturers Association Muhammad Khalid Mughal said that the cutlery manufacturers and exporters have the potential to increase the declining exports of cutlery (kitchen ware) items exports to the tune of $150 million. He urged the government to focus on cutlery manufacturing SMEs, besides, establishing a bank of raw materials in active collaboration with local private sector. He also urged to launch the workers training programme and their welfare projects under the supervision of Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP).

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