LAHORE - The industry in Punjab, except spinning sector, is without gas for the last two weeks, besides facing power loadshedding of around six to eight hours.

The SNGPL had committed to provide at least 25 per cent gas to the garment sector but even this limited quantity of gas was not ensured, as the industry on Ferozepur Road, Kotlakhpat industrial area, Township industrial estate, Quaid-e-Azam Industrial Estate and industrial clusters on Multan Road are not getting gas supply for last about two weeks along with suspension of power supply of over 6 hours.

Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PRGMEA) vice chairman Malik Naseer said that the garment industry in Punjab was becoming uncompetitive within Pakistan due to prolonged power loadshedding and complete gas supply suspension while there was smooth gas and power supply in other provinces.

Malik Naseer said the value-added textile industry in Punjab was facing problems because of the increasing cost of production due to gas shortages, higher electricity tariff, and amounts stuck up with the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) in sales tax refunds.

PRGMEA VC urged the government to provide a level playing field to the Punjab-based clothing industry by providing greater gas and power supply, which will help exporters reduce their energy costs, and by releasing the amounts stuck up in sales tax refunds.

He demanded of the govt to prioritise value-added textile industry in energy supply on the patron of Bangladesh as the garment industry is presently without gas in Punjab.

He requested the government to keep focus on the apparel industry which could generate foreign exchange, contribute to local taxes and generate employment, he added. He said if the government resolved all issues the apparel sector alone could generate $500 million by enhancing its exports to the EU. The Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Ijaz A. Mumtaz warned of massive lay-offs and industrial closures if unscheduled loadshedding is not stopped immediately in Lahore Township Industrial area by the Lahore Electric Supply Company (LESCO) is worsening the situation.

Ijaz A. Mumtaz said that LESCO authorities would not be able to control the situation triggered by the demonstrations and strikes called by the angry industrial workers against their retrenchments as a result of these power outages.

“How the government would establish its writ and from where it would collect revenues to run its day-to-day affairs when the industrial wheel would come to a halt.”

LCCI former vice president Kashif Anwar said that the industry needs a continuous supply of electricity to keep the units operational and to complete the export orders well within the given timeframe but only because of the shortage of electricity the exports are not up to the mark.

He said that Pakistan had already lost a number of international markets and the new longer hour power cuts would further aggravate the situation.

Kashif Anwar said that cheaper and uninterrupted power supply is only way to achieve economic targets set for the year 2015 but neither the LESCO is sharing its future plans to this regard nor paying any heed to the difficulties being faced by the trade and industry.

FPCCI President Mian Adrees said that the most of industrial units had already reduced their working to single or two shifts from the previous three shifts system.

This had led to increased level of raw-material wastage leaving production process non-profitable. Now the leading industrial units were experiencing losses despite being managed professionally.

He said that a similar situation had erupted in the past but that was resolved with the help of the business community who lent a lot of input in developing a viable load management plan.