PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s (KP) furniture industry is bearing the adverse economic impact of prolonged coronavirus lockdowns and electricity load-shedding and power cuts that have led to a slowdown in business.
According to sources, almost 50 per cent of furniture manufacturing units in KP run the risk of coming to a standstill if uninterrupted power supply is not ensured.
Currently, thousands of families in Peshawar, Upper Dir, Lower Dir, Swat, Mardan, Shangla, Chitral, Charsadda Buner and other cities of the province are associated with the furniture industry.
Mohammad Qasim, who owns a furniture business in KP, told Profit that more than a thousand small and large factories employing around 6,000 to 8,000 artisans are currently operating in the province.
Mohammad Qasim said that despite the furniture industry providing employment to thousands of individuals, no incentives were provided by the past and present government’s to further develop the industry and enhance skills of artisans associated with it.
“Due to the coronavirus lockdowns and increased load-shedding and power cuts, almost 50 per cent of the furniture industry is on the verge of shutting down, which will render thousands of people jobless,” said Qasim.
He further said that Covid-19’s adverse economic impact and the surge in inflation have reduced the purchasing power of consumers which has led to a fall in sales of furniture factories across KP.
According to Qasim, around 30 per cent of the labour force associated with the furniture industry has lost their jobs due to the slowdown in demand.
He urged the government to announce a comprehensive financial package to revive KP’s furniture industry.
Anwar, who works as a labourer at a furniture factory in KP, told Profit, that orders received by the furniture businesses in the province have gone down considerably compared to the level of orders received in the past.
“In the past, artisans working in furniture factories could easily earn Rs40,000 to Rs60,000 per month. However, due to the recent reduction in sales, even senior artisans are being forced to quit the furniture industry,” he said.
In the past, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (SMEDA) used to provide training to the artisans working in KP’s furniture industry, however, such training activities have been discontinued.
Craftsmen and business owners associated with KP’s furniture industry while talking to Profit, demanded the resumption of training activities for artisans. They further urged the government to ensure uninterrupted supply of electricity and timber so that KP’s furniture industry can operate without interruption.
They also urged the government to reform the tax system for the furniture industry and ensure that the industry only has to pay taxes to a single authority.