'Give us a level playing field' – Mr Jakhura, PRGMEA
Mr Dawood Jakhura, Zonal Chairman, PRGMEA
The textile and garment industry in Pakistan has been going through, what can be called a trial by fire. In 2008, the industry was afflicted by the biggest problem; electricity and gas shortages. Other than those were, labour problems, high mark-ups etc. But what came in the second half of 2008 in the form of a Goliath, made all these problems look like a David.
The tsunami like economic crisis leading to a slowdown in domestic and export sales took the winds out of the textile and garment sector. But, still the industry has managed to emerge from the depths, like a colossus and delivered excellent results, and in turn exceptional profits in the first half of the current fiscal (2008-09).
Apart from being the highest tax payer in the country, the sector contributes 60 percent to the annual overall exports from the sector and is also the highest employment generator from amongst all sectors in the country by providing direct and indirect employment to around 2.5 million people.
Along the way, the sector has also received a lot of brickbats and raised a lot of false impressions. The industry has been derided for the fact that it is always looking for concessions and incentives from the government. Mr Dawood Jakhura, Zonal Chairman, Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers & Exporters Association (PRGMEA), spoke out against those misconceptions.
He said, “Many times I come across well educated gentlemen who point out that textile industry is always asking for concessions and is a burden on our economy. This view is totally incorrect. Our textile industry is a major foreign revenue earner, largest employment generator and the highest tax payer segment in our economy. It is the only manufacturing sector that makes the country proud by introducing its products to leading companies all around the world”.
He continued by saying, “It is true indeed that the industry does ask for certain concessions from time to time but the fact of the matter is that textiles is a labor intensive sector and wherever in the world there is textile industry, it is always protected directly or indirectly because of its employment generating nature”.
He continued, “The idea behind free trade is to concentrate industries where they have natural advantage thus making products economical for all but unfortunately our successive governments have been going against this theory and have tried and failed repeatedly to make other industries parallel to textiles. Although it is very important for Pakistan to diversity its product base but to do this at the cost of an industry which has a natural advantage makes no sense”.
He explained by saying, “I am sure that all stakeholders would agree with me when I say that textile industry is ready to play its role in the economic uplifting of the country in this dire time of need. All we want is to get GSP+ facility from EU and a proper FTA with USA for our products. If thesetwo treaties are penned properly, we are more than sure that our textile exports would double to touch US$ 20 billion in next 4-5 years”.
Towards the end he concluded by saying, “This would eliminate the need of begging for financial aid from anyone or putting any burden on our economy. All we want from our government is to provide a level playing field vis-à-vis our global competitors and if this is provided we are sure that the textile industry will lead Pakistan out of these dark times”.
Fibre2fashion News Desk - India