‘Ensure gas supply, we’ll pay more’
Textile mill owners yesterday said they were willing to shell out 40 percent more for interrupted supply of gas. Supply disruptions have been costing the industry crores of taka, the consequences of which can prevent the textile industry from reaching their export target of $60 billion by the end of this fiscal year, according to Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA).
"We are ready to pay Tk 22.83 or 40 percent more per unit of gas to keep the mills running," Mohammad Ali Khokon, president of Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA), said at a press conference at a hotel in the capital.
Since March, the industry has lost orders worth $1 billion because of disruption in production caused by gas shortage, he said.
After July, production in the mills fell to 60 percent, he added.
The BTMA currently has 1,700 members who invested about $16 billion in the sector, Khokon said.
Textile mills in many areas of Narayanganj, Madhabdi, Ashulia, Savar, Gazipur, Sreepur, Bhaluka, Chattogram and Cumilla can now operate for only 12 hours a day because of poor gas supplies. Spinning, weaving, dyeing, finishing and sizing facility owners currently pay Tk 16.33 for each million cubic feet of gas.
Many entry- and mid-level mills are on the verge of closure, he added.
If the production in the textile industry continues facing these disruptions, the financial sector will eventually suffer aftershocks, because most of the owners borrowed from banks to invest in production facilities.
Production facilities of the textile sector burn gas for boilers and to generate electricity to run their machinery. Currently, the textile sector uses 169.1 billion cubic feet of gas a year paying the government Tk 500 crore.
Local spinners can supply up to 90 percent raw materials to the export-oriented knitwear sector and 40 percent to the export-oriented woven sector. Any disruption in gas supply in the primary textile sector means that exports will also be severely affected.
As of October 21, Petrobangla supplied 2,639 million cubic feet of gas a day to the national grid against a demand for 3,760 mmcf. The average deficit in gas supply has been around 1,000 mmcf per day over the last few months.