Islamabad, June 3 (ANI): With a shortage of electricity jamming the wheels of industry and neighbouring China snatching away raw material, Pakistan's strong power looms sector has started trembling and hundreds of units have been forced to shut down operations.
"Some 250 power looms have been forced to shut down in previous one year and about 50,000 workers have been unemployed, the crises is still on and we don't know about future," said Waheed Khaliq, the president of the Pakistan Power Looms Association (PPLA).
Pakistan's total textile export is 10 billion dollars, and the power looms sector has faced a production loss of up to five billion dollars in the last year.
"The ongoing economic crises, shortage of electricity and export of yarn has hit hard at the backbone of power looms. Our industrialists are getting frustrated, workers losing jobs and even lives due to economic crunch," claimed Khaliq.
Some 2,75,000 power looms units were working in Pakistan till the last year where thousands of low scale workers had been accommodated.
But the crisiss has put a shadow on the industry and workers are worried about their future.
Pakistan was exporting 30 million kilograms of yarn per year to China till 2009, but the expansion of the Chinese industry enhanced demand and offered a better price to Pakistani yarn exporters, which took yarn export to Chinese market to 80 million kilograms, and it is still increasing.
"We have been asking the government for remedial steps for the last one year, but there has not been a sufficient response from the authorities," Khaliq said.he government imposed 15 percent duty on the export of yarn most recently and scheduled the load shedding of electricity, but industrialists are still worried.
"The imposition of a regulatory duty is a good step, but I don't think it will help our industry much. The government should take more steps to reduce the export of yarn. The load shedding of electricity has already spoiled the industry; we have don't have power for hours and minimum load shedding is four hours a day; it is killing for the industry and its workers," he said.
The workers association believes that unemployment and the crisis in the industry has damaged the personal life of the workers and they are heading towards total disaster.
"Our workers have become patients of mental disorder and started using drugs. Many of them have divorced because of unemployment and financial crisis. The government must ban the export of yarn and provide electricity to the industry," said Aslam Meraj, the president of the power looms workers union.
Federal Textile Minister Rana Farooq Saeed said the government has taken sufficient steps to improve the situation.
"The government is aware of these problems and is taking steps to overcome the situation," he told ANI.
"The imposition of regulatory duty has been very effective and reduced yarn exports up to 200 million kilograms last month. We have already exempted textile factories from the electricity load shedding and are trying to exempt the power looms sector also, but no problem can be solved overnight," he said.
Saeed added that power loom owners wanted to buy yarn at cheaper rates, a demand that was impossible to meet.
"We can't supply them the material on unrealistic rates, and that is the reason they are putting pressure, he said.
Pakistan's textile industry recently went on strike for weeks in protest against the government's policies and the imposition of new taxes on industry, which has added to crisis. By Mir Mohammad (ANI)