Rs4bn budget low-priority towards textile: Bilwani

KARACHI: Pakistan Apparel Forum Chairman and Chief Coordinator Pakistan Hosiery Manufacturers and Exporters Association Jawed Bilwani on Friday articulated that allocation of only Rs 4 billion to textile out of Prime Minister's 180 Billion Export package reflects non-seriousness of the Government towards the sector. 
As per annual Export estimate and careful observation the said allocation should be worth about Rs 35 billion. He stated that textile sector contributes to 8 percent of national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) remained a low priority area for the government and the sector has not been given deserving importance. As compared to last year, there was a negative growth of 0.92 percent from July to April which reflects non-seriousness of the Government towards the sector.
Jawed Bilwani while giving a comparison on textile exports under Prime Minister Export Package of Rs 180 billion highlighted that from January to April 2017 textile exports were $ 4.13 billion while after announcement of PM's export package textile exports from January to April 2017 were $ 4.14 billion with an increase of 0.4 percent only whereas from July to April, textile export saw a negative growth of 0.92 percent. 
The export policies of the Government towards enhancement of export are not realistic and balanced. Pakistan textile exports in 2012-13 were 13.06 billion US dollars, faced negative growth of 4.67 percent and drastically declined to 12.45 billion US dollars in 2015-16. 
In this manner the exports have overall declined to 15 percent and textile exports declined to 3 percent. If situation not improved the export may further decline to further 8 percent, he observed.
Bilwani recalled that the Finance Minister in Budget speech 2014-15 announced all sales tax refunds claims of exporters shall be released by September 30, 2014 and promised that in future all admissible refund claims of exporters shall be disposed of within three months. 
In budget speech 2015-16 the Finance Minister stated that the refunds due to the export oriented sectors relating to tax periods till May 31, 2015 shall be issued by August 31, 2015. Finance Minister in Budget speech 2016-17 stated that all sales tax refunds till April 30, who's RPOs have been approved, will be paid by August 31, 2016. 
In his last budget speech 2017-18, the Finance Minister, spoke that all the pending sales tax refunds who's RPOs have been sanctioned by April 30, 2017 shall be paid in two parts. RPOs upto the value of Rs 1 million will be paid till July 15 and the remaining RPOs will be paid till August 14, 2017. In spite of announcement in Budget speeches the refunds have not been made till date. 
He was surprised to note that funds allocated during the last four budgets was not released, how can we expect that funds allocated in budget 2017-18 shall be released to exporters? He was of the view that the Government should inform the public as to where those allocated funds were spent and why not released to textile sector? He voiced that for Textile Industry the Budget was disappointing and had not attraction. As usual, the Government ignored the Budget proposals of Associations. To enhance exports, the Government must accord importance to the recommendations of exporters. Due to inordinate delays in payment of refunds the problems of exporters have been multiplied. 
The Government itself is not adhering to the Sales Tax Rules 2006 under which after approval of claims payments cannot be delayed, they expressed concern. Refunds approved last year have not been paid till date. How could the newly allocated funds for refunds shall be released on given dates? he questioned. 
No practical steps and measures have been taken to decease the cost of manufacturing. Higher cost of manufacturing, delays in refunds, higher tariffs of power and gas, lack of business friendly environment are the main causes of decline in exports, he added. 
He stated that textile remained a low priority area for the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government. In Budget 2014-15 Rs 6 billion were allocated under textile policy but released only 4.84 billion. Likewise, in 2015-16 budget Rs. 6 billion were allocated and in 2016-17 another Rs 6 billion were allocated but were never released. 
He was not sure whether the Government shall release the funds allocated in budget 2017-18 or not? During tenure of PML-N government from 2015-2017 allocated total Rs 18 billion but release only Rs 4.84 billion for payments. In PPP last Govt tenure Rs 188 billion were allocated for textiles. In annual budgets from 2009 till 2014 Rs 17 billion were allocated and Rs 28.25 billion were released. Under Textile Policy 2014-19 Rs 80 billion were allocated but were not released. The Government knows best where those funds were utilized, he added. - NNI