Punjab textile millers seek exemption from lockdown

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LAHORE: The All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA)-Punjab on Friday urged the provincial government to exempt textile mills from the ongoing lockdown, subject to compliance with the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) already prescribed by the government in respect of other exempted industries and businesses.

APTMA, in its letter written to Punjab Industries, Commerce and Investment Minister Mian Muhammad Aslam Iqbal, stated that lockdown imposed in Punjab on March 23 has resulted in abrupt closure of all offices, cessation of production and manufacturing operations, as well as stoppage of supplies both from domestic and foreign markets.

The letter further highlighted that the current lockdown also does not permit manufacturing of goods meant for shipment to overseas destinations.

“This situation is fraught with risks of cancellation of valuable export orders, causing colossal losses to the country’s economy.”

APTMA stated that in order to honour the commitment of export orders, there is an urgent need to allow production and transportation of goods that are exclusively meant for export purposes.

“Presently, divisional commissioners are empowered to allow manufacturing operations on a case-to-case basis, subject to compliance with certain harsh conditions, including testing of certain percentage of employees on a daily basis which make the permission almost redundant in most of the cases,” the association noted. “The procedure in vogue is not only very cumbersome but also prone to inordinate delays.”

It may be noted that the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government on March 31 had granted general exemption to the textile export industry keeping in view the importance of foreign exchange in the country’s economic viability.

Similarly, the Sindh government on March 24 had formed a committee to resolve the issues of export oriented units on a day-to-day basis.

“To ensure smooth operations of Punjab export industry and to bring it at par with Sindh and KP, the Punjab government may also exempt textile units from the ongoing lockdown,” the APTMA letter read.

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