The textile industry in Punjab has been facing acute shortage of gas supply for the last seven days, jeopardizing the fulfilment of export orders from the European countries and elsewhere. There is extremely low gas pressure in some cities while gas is non-existent in many other areas.The suspension of gas supply over a long period of time is likely to cause millions of dollars losses to the country.According to APTMA Chairman SM Tanveer, the SNGPL had allocated 100MMCFD for the Punjab-based textile industry on the direction of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, but suspension of the supply has created a crisis-like situation, rendering thousands of textile mills workers jobless across the province.
The textile sector has been under pressure, especially for the last one year, and has failed to fully reap the benefits of the GSP plus status granted by the European Union.The political chaos and terrorism activities are adding to the economic woes of the country and an international conspiracy on this context cannot be denies.
On another note, the Pak-Iran pipeline project has been passing through various ups and downs since its inception and is now at a stage where Pakistan is liable to pay demurrage to Iran for not implementing the clauses of the agreement. The government has, however, convinced Iran to withdraw its demand for $200million per month compensation from January 1.Initially, India was also part of the Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline project, but it withdrew from it owing to international pressure, especially from the United States. Pakistan is also facing tremendous pressure from Washington to cancel the project due to international sanctions on Iran. But Pakistan is facing energy crisis for the last several years and cheap Iranian gas can prop up its industrial sector. If China becomes part of the gas pipeline project, it will give moral boost to Pakistan and hopefully the project will enter the implementation stage. In the present situation, Iran has come to the rescue of Pakistan on the issue of penalty, but no one is in a position to explain how long this project will take to complete. On the domestic front, the provinces are free to use their natural resources on their own after the 18th amendment, and can apply a quote system for the distribution of resources at their behest. The centre has limited leverage in this regard.
According to experts,the Iranian gas forms a substantial part of Pakistan’s energy mix and is a very significant source of energy for the country. This project is a must for the country’s industrial sector. According to Customs Today report, the SNGPL is reportedly trying to save its system from collapse by implementing load management plan in Punjab and the federal capital with gas shortfall hovering around 1500 MMCFD.