TEXTILE MINISTRY NEED OF THE DAY

An exclusive interview with Tanveer Jamshed of TeeJays

By SHABBIR H. KAZMI
Jan 15 - 21, 2001

Pakistan has an elaborate infrastructure for the production of textiles and clothing. Textile sector contributes the highest percentage in total exports of the country but the main products are yarn, grey fabrics and low and medium quality made-ups. The average unit price realization is often below the world average. The GOP policies have always been, even today, influenced by certain pressure groups. The result is: glut of locally produced yarn, inadequate and inefficient weaving, processing and made-ups manufacturing facilities. The exponential expansion of spinning capacity has been done at the cost of other sub-sectors adding the highest value. For this dismal situation the economic managers are responsible.

Following are the excerpts from the interview.

PAGE: How do you evaluate the performance of Pakistan's textile industry?

TJ: Let us review the history of industrial development in the country. I am forced to draw two conclusions: 1) the GDP growth rate during Military rule has been higher than the rates achieved by the elected governments and 2) the barrack people are more smart in picking up their economic managers, be it Shoaib or Mahboob-ul-Haq. Therefore, the industrial activities, led by the textile sector, were at the peak. However, the vision was lost subsequently due to formation of a troika of politicians, bureaucracy and businessmen. The development of various pressure groups changed the priorities. Realizing the potential of textile industry, the idea of an autonomous Textile Ministry was agreed in early sixties. While we failed to implement it, Sri Lanka a country which does not produce cotton implemented the idea.

PAGE: Why you have been propagating the idea of Textile Ministry?

TJ: I am proud to be the promoter of this idea. I believe that the persistent crisis like situation in textile industry is because of the absence of Textile Ministry. I would also say that, to a large extent, Ministry of Commerce is responsible for the prevailing situation. At present at least 18 divisions work under the umbrella of the Ministry and it is not possible, physically, for one person to do justice with an industry which earns billions of dollars.

The process of globalization and emerging intense competition demands that the country should be managed like a corporate entity. In modern days business strategy is developed and implemented on the recommendations of marketing department and not by the production manager. All other departments facilitate in making right goods available at right time and at right price. Our failure was due to inability to cater to the needs of the market.

PAGE: What could be the way out?

TJ: In my opinion creation of a separate Textile Ministry is the only solution. We do not have time to debate whether or not Pakistan should have the Ministry. It should have been established long ago. We have used some other alternatives to avoid creation of an independent ministry but all in vain. In India, our next door neighbour, Textile Ministry was created in sixties. Countries like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, which do not produce cotton, have Textile Ministry. Despite, being the fourth largest cotton producing country, where economy and exports are largely dependent on textiles, Pakistan does not have a Textile Ministry.

PAGE: Why there is a resistance against the Textile Ministry?

TJ: I am amazed as well as disappointed by the delay in creation of an independent Textile Ministry. The idea was approved during the first tenure of Benazir Bhutto and it is also supported by the strongest lobby of textile mills All Pakistan Textile Mills Association. I believe that while it is a demand of the industry, the idea has met the highest resistance by the Ministry of Commerce. Even the present Commerce Minister, Razzak Dawood, has emerged as the vehement opponent of the idea. I can understand the resistance by the officials of the ministry but it disappoints me the most is the attitude of the Minister.

PAGE: What is your suggestion to the Chief Executive?

TJ: The honourable Commerce Minister is not only an industrialist but also an academician. He must realize that in order to survive in the highly competitive global market, Pakistan has to be managed like a corporate entity. The problems faced by textile industry have to be addressed on top priority. Recently I made a presentation to the Think-Tank of GHQ and they fully endorsed the idea. Now it is the time for the Chief Executive to act. The Minister should keep in mind that if the Textile Ministry is created his name will be written in golden words in the history of Pakistan. He should do what Faisal Hayat could not do in the past.