In a startling revelation, Pakistan’s Interim Commerce Minister, Dr. Gohar Ijaz, has disclosed that more than 1,600 textile factories in the country have closed their doors over the past sixteen months. This grim news has sent shockwaves through the nation’s already fragile textile sector.
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According to a report in Dawn, Minister Ijaz highlighted that this shutdown has not spared any part of the textile value chain, affecting industries from ginning and weaving to spinning, processing, and garment manufacturing. Furthermore, many surviving industries are operating at reduced production levels, indicating a systemic crisis.
The commerce minister went on to reveal that approximately 20 percent of the overall installed capacity in the crucial textile and clothing sector has been impacted during this bleak 16-month period. Recognizing the urgency of the situation, he disclosed that the government is in the final stages of crafting a strategic framework. This framework aims to address the crisis by providing regional competitive energy pricing, essential working capital support, expeditious refund payments, expanded market access, and diversification of products.
Minister Ijaz firmly believes that the forthcoming policy announcement will unlock the dormant production potential within the country, offering a glimmer of hope in these challenging times.
Meanwhile, according to the most recent data released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), the country’s exports in August 2023 amounted to $2.36 billion. While this figure represents a 4.8 percent decrease compared to August 2022, it also signifies a 14.3 percent increase from the $2.07 billion recorded the previous month. Minister Ijaz attributed this month-on-month growth to the positive impact of the caretaker government’s policies.
Notably, the caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar’s cabinet assumed office on August 17. In addition to this promising export data, Minister Ijaz shared another piece of welcome news. He stated that the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) is set to transfer Rs. 31 to exporters’ accounts, a payment scheduled for Monday. This will be followed by further refund payments to exporters in the near future, partially alleviating the pressing working capital challenges they currently face.
As Pakistan grapples with the multifaceted challenges confronting its textile industry, the government’s proposed measures and the recent export growth offer a glimmer of optimism for a sector vital to the nation’s economy.