Nov 1 - 7, 20

Despite manifold challenges posed to the country's economy, exports from Pakistan in rupees term increased 21.05 per cent during the first quarter of the current fiscal year as against the same period of last year.

Exports during July-September (2010-11) were recorded at Rs443, 443 million as against Rs366, 325 million during the corresponding period of last year showing an increase of 21.05 per cent.

The provisional figures show that exports during the month of September 2010 amounted to Rs138,893 million as against Rs151,678 million in August 2010 and Rs124,933 million during September 2009, showing a decrease of 8.43 per cent over August 2010, and an increase of 11.17 per cent over September 2009.

Main commodities of exports during September 2010 were cotton cloth (Rs15,831 million), knitwear (Rs15,320 million), Bed wear (Rs13,187 million), cotton yarn (Rs10,478 million), readymade garments (Rs10,172 million), rice others (Rs5,006 million), jewellery (Rs4,950 million), rice basmati (Rs4,719 million), art, silk and synthetic textile (Rs4,614 million) and towels (Rs4,484 million).

Statistics show that the country's textile exports surged by 20.70 per cent during the first quarter of the current financial year as against the same period of last year.

The overall textile exports during July-September (2010-11) were recorded at US$ 2.917 billion against the exports of US$2.417 billion during July- September (2009-10).

The textile products witnessing growth included cotton cloth, exports of which increased by 22.88 per cent by going up from US$ 432.974 million in 2009-10 to US$532.035 million during the current year.

Other items witnessing growth in exports included cotton yearn (2.08 per cent), yarn other than cotton yarn (14.36 per cent), knitwear (15.79 per cent), bed wear (14.73 per cent) towels (12.12 per cent), readymade garments (38.83 per cent), art, silk and synthetic textile (142.41 per cent), made-up articles (26.72 per cent) whereas the export of other textile products increased by 84.27 per cent during the period.

Textile products that witnessed negative growth included raw cotton, exports of which decreased by 82.80 per cent. Similarly, exports of cotton carded or combed decreased by 97.38 per cent and exports of tents, canvas and tarpaulin declined by 38.67 per cent, the FBS figures revealed.

On the other hand, textile exports during September 2010 decreased by 4.77 per cent when compared to the exports of August 2010. Exports in October 2010 were recorded at US$ 942.368 million against the exports of US$ 989.568 during August 2010. As against the exports of US$815.807 million in September 2009, the exports during the same month of current year increased by 15.51 per cent, according to the data.

In another positive sign, the exports of services sector grew 4.87 per cent during the first two months of current fiscal year as against the same period of last year. Overall services exports were recorded at US$589.089 million in July-August (2010-11) against the exports of US$561.745 million during July-August (2009-10).

On the other hand, country's services exports increased 7.51 per cent during August 2010 as against the exports of July 2010. The exports during July 2010 were recorded at US$ 305.207 million in August against the imports of US$283.882 million during July 2010. Services exports decreased by 2.54 per cent during August 2010 when compared with the exports of $313.160 million during the same month of last year.

The business community is critical of the SNGPL's decision of three-day weekly gas suspension plan and said it will hit exports, productivity, and government revenues hard.

The Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry has sought the Prime Minister's intervention and help for ensuring smooth supply of gas to the industry in Punjab.

The LCCI President Shahzad Ali Malik, Senior Vice President Sheikh Mohammad Arshad and Vice President Sohail Azhar said that the gas suspension plan would have a very negative impact on entire industrial sector that was already passing through very challenging times due to acute shortage of electricity and poor law and order situation.

According to them, not only the exports and productions would plunge but the graph of unemployment would also go up as a large number of industrial units would be left with no other option but to close down their operations if gas suspension plan is not shelved.

How the industry would be able to manage export orders worth millions of dollars when there is no gas? What about the thousands of daily wagers, who have a single source of income, they questioned? And above all, they added, how the government would convince both the local and foreign investors for investment when it is unable to manage the supply of gas to existing industrial units.

They said that the decision would send a very negative signal to the foreign buyers. "Instead of coming up with some sort of relief package, the industry is being pushed to the wall. The gas curtailment or disconnection is tantamount to throttling the industry to death."

The LCCI office-bearers said they were unable to understand that why the business community was not taken into confidence over industry-related issues and if the SNGPL was facing some supply related issues they must bring them to the notice of real stakeholders well ahead of time. They said that the solution for increasing demand for gas lies in importing liquefied natural gas (LNG). Therefore, the government should expedite work on Mashal Project aimed at importing LNG. For Pakistan, the importance of LNG can hardly be overemphasised. Natural gas currently meets more than 50 per cent of the primary energy requirements of Pakistan. Ever rising gap between the supply and demand is attributed to the rapidly increasing demand for natural gas, by power plants and the industrial and commercial sector, in the wake of accelerated economic activity in the country and higher GDP growth projections, they added.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz senior leader and prominent leader of business community Mohammad Pervaiz Malik told Page that the condition of trade & industry was very fragile due to non-friendly and groundless policies of the present regime.

According to him, the industrial sector was already facing massive crisis like worst power shortage, highest mark-up rates and deteriorating law and order situation but instead of taking measure to provide some relief the government is pushing the industry towards the disaster.

The PML-N leader said that textile sector was the largest export-oriented sector of the country with more than 60 per cent share in the total exports. Despite its importance, he said, SNGPL authorities had increased the gas load shedding from one day in a week to three day in a week. He said that the textile sector was already facing heavy losses due to one day gas load shedding and now three-day gas load shedding in a week further would reduce the production further. Exporters would not be able to meet their export orders. Foreign buyers would be transferred to other countries. Financial crisis would be deepened. Industrialists would not be able to pay salaries of workers and utility bills. Textile processing and knitting units would be closed down. Their operations and graph of unemployment would touch the sky.

He said that the gas is the main component of the textile industry but every year gas supply would be suspended with the start of winter season. He said that due to antipathetic behavior of the government, many textile units had closed down their operations or transferred to other countries and thousands industrial workers lost their jobs. He asked the government to pay heed to concerns of all Pakistan textile mills association (Aptma) and chambers of commerce & industry and ensure continue supply of gas to the industrial sector to keep the industrial wheel moving otherwise national economy will face devastating consequences.