LAHORE - The Pakistan Hosiery Manufacturers Association has asked the government to announce an instant relief package to retain millions of workers employment in textile sector during shutdown period, as the industry is considering to lay off workers following the cancellation of export orders.
The demand was raised by PHMA Vice Chairman Shafiq Butt in a hurriedly-called meeting held here at PHMA zonal office on Friday. The meeting was also attended by the office-bearers and members of the Association.
With a view to avoid unemployment in industry the government should announce a relief package to support workers during shutdown period, as industry is unable to pay them due to liquidity crunch amidst non-payment of sales tax refunds, he suggested.
Shafiq Butt said that the industry has started giving notices to employees for layoffs. This trend will culminate into unemployment of hundreds of thousands of workers at a time when millions of youth are already unemployed. The government will have to announce immediate relief for the industry as exports shipments to Europe and the USA are being suspended owing to closure of international borders due to Coronavirus threats.
The PHMA is highly perturbed over adverse impacts of Coronavirus outbreak, as foreign buyers have started deferring export orders, resulting into closure of export industry widely, causing a massive unemployment, which can be managed only through government support. The government should take supportive measures on war footings to keep the wheels of industry moving and secure jobs of millions.
He expressed grave concern over adverse impacts of coronavirus pandemic on economy and industrial sectors, fully supporting the state machinery steps in this regard.
Shafiq Butt said that presently industrial production has been slowed down and wheels of industry have come to halt. If the situation prolongs, there will be unmanageable level of unemployment, he warned. In order to save the economy from the impacts of the slowdown in the world economy due to the COVID-19, the government should take economic measures to keep industrial wheels running and save the livelihood of millions, including early disbursement of all outstanding sales tax refunds, significant cut in mark-up rate and continuation of energy supply on competitive rates as committed by the government.
On this occasion, the PHMA vice chairman also proposed the government to suspend sales tax collection from the exporting sector, restoring its zero rating status temporarily to avoid liquidity crunch in this time of crisis.
He said other countries are combating the situation through massive injection of funds through outright grants, ensuring availability of cheap credit to the industry and deferment of all government dues and taxes.
The apparel industry is already cash strapped due to the flawed sales tax system which has transferred billions of exporters to the Federal Board of Revenue. The tax department has partially processed claims till Nov 2019 while three months further have also passed.
He urged the government to ensure continuation of electricity and gas supply to the export sector at government committed rates on long-term basis and slash the interest rate to single digit with a view to achieve export target and fully exploit the extension in GSP Plus status to Pakistan.