Textile industry representatives claim seven million layoffs

Representatives from textile industry have claimed that around seven million people have been laid off amid dwindling exports and the government’s failure to end the economic crisis in the absence of any clear policy.

At conference held in Karachi on Monday, the representatives of various bodies said the industry was on the verge of closure with many units were already closed down and several others planning to either shut down or shifting their production abroad.

Muhammad Jawed Bilwani of Value-Added Textile Forum, Pakistan Hosiery Manufacturers and Exporters Association’s Muhammad Babar Khan and Khizer Mehboob, Rafiq Godil of Pakistan Knitwear and Sweater Exporters Association, Pakistan Cloth Merchants Association’s Abdul Samad and others from the bodies representing the businessmen involved in value addition spoke of the occasion.

According to these business leaders, textile factories are being deprived of necessary raw material and accessories. Letters of credit worth as low as $5,000 are being refused, causing severe disruption and production delays and leading to cancellation of export orders.

They decried import curbs on value-added textile makers who earn dollars through exports, generate taxes for the national exchequer and create employment.

It is ironic that exporters who are bringing dollars into the country have been placed third on the priority list for the import of raw materials, they said. Essential items like wheat and edible oil are the first on the priority list while energy-related imports are second.

They complained that the dollar-earning export sector is placed below dollar-spending sectors on the priority list, which shows the poor judgment of policymakers. “How could you spend foreign exchange on essential items and energy if you don’t earn it first?”

Moreover, the government performance in the last nine months is poor, they said. Two finance ministers during this period have failed to resolve the ongoing economic crisis, they noted, adding that neither the prime minister nor the finance minister have bothered to set aside some time to meet the exporters, they noted.

The industrial sector cannot operate under extreme financial stress as the alarm bells for sovereign default have been continuously ringing while the government’s finance and economic team appears to be asleep at the wheel, they said.

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