Representative Image: Textile Mills industry in Pakistan (Reuters / Dawn File)

LAHORE, Pakistan – At least 300 textile mills have been closed, said All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) Chairman Abdul Rahim Nasir in a press conference on Wednesday, amid severe energy crunch and subsequent suspension of gas supply in the country.

Earlier this week, Pakistan sought more gas imports on deferred payments from Qatar to restore gas supply to the textile industry on an urgent basis.

Nasir said a 26 percent upsurge in the export of textiles during the fiscal year 2021-22 was made possible only due to the supply of energy at a regionally competitive tariff, stressing that a loss of almost USD 1 billion in exports has already been incurred, according to ANI.

The exponential growth in the textile sector has promoted investment of over USD 5bn and the establishment of 100 new textile units, which, after becoming operational, would result in fetching additional exports of USD 6.0bn per annum, Dawn reported, quoting the Vice-Chairman.

Elaborating the detail on what could have majorly caused the loss, APTMA chairman explained that gas supply to the industry was suspended for a week, which led to the large-scale closure of mills that ultimately resulted in massive layoffs and unemployment.

Meanwhile, APTMA North Zone Chief Hamid Zaman stressed that the textile sector has repeatedly delivered on its commitment to enhancing exports, proving they are a viable and long-term solution provider for the economic stability of the country, according to Dawn.

“If this momentum is lost due to energy supply and cost constraints, Pakistan will be forced to seek an additional USD 6bn in loans from abroad, which under the circumstances may not even be possible,” he said, underlining the immediate restoration of gas supply to the export-oriented industry, as ANI quoted.

Quetta, Peshawar, Gujranwala, Multan, Faisalabad, Mirpurkhas and other cities in Pakistan are reportedly suffering from a gas shortage, according to sources. Not only residents but owners of hotels and restaurants are also complaining of a gas shortage, as it is having an adverse impact on their business.

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On Wednesday,Pakistan sought more gas imports on deferred payments from Qatar, amid severe energy crunch and unprecedentedly expensive fuel imports.

Authorities in Islamabad are engaging with Qatar at different levels to ramp up Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) supplies to Pakistan to make up for shortage of four to five cargoes (about 400-500 million cubic feet of gas per day) every month, as DWAN reported.

The government has failed in last three attempts over the past couple of weeks to secure even a single cargo for July from the spot market as whatever quantities are available.

According to sources, Minister of State for Petroleum Musadik Malik visited Qatar a few weeks ago for additional LNG quantities, saying the government was tapping all avenues to see how additional molecules are secured to meet needs of the local industry and the people at competitive costs.

He said various pricing models were in his mind, but the real challenge was the availability of additional energy quantities, adding the government would encourage private investment for competition and end monopolies, the DWAN wrote.

Although, both have already received the go-ahead from cabinet and its other forums to utilize the pipeline capacities, Sui gas companies have still not executed contracts despite strict reminders from the energy ministry and the regulator, Ogra.

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