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Addressing gas shortage in industries

September 23, 2022 00:00:00

Gas shortage that seemed to have affected industrial production in a few selected areas since the past months has by now become a major threat to almost the entire range of industrial productivity. Notable among the sectors badly affected include textiles, RMG, light engineering, fertiliser, cement etc. As reports have it, the country's textile mills are the worst victims of gas shortage which have been struggling to cope with power cuts for more than a month.

Production in the export-oriented textile mills has drastically fallen due to the ongoing gas supply shortage. Some 300 textile mills located at Gazipur, Savar, Ashulia, Shreepur, Dhaka, Narayanganj, Narsingdi and Bhaluka are reportedly finding it extremely difficult to remain operational in this situation. At a time when the country's textile and apparel sector is recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic, shortage of gas supply signals a grim prospect for its recovery. Exporters are fearing delays in shipment, if the present situation continues or further worsens in the coming days as the industry needs uninterrupted supply of gas.

The country's gas production drastically fell due to a reported technical fault that surfaced in the Bibiyana gas field. As a result, gas pressure came down well below the required level, according to sector insiders. Expressing concern, the Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA) has said that it would be difficult for the millers to meet their administrative costs, pay workers' wage and bank-loan instalments, if such a situation persists for a longer period. The mills cover a wide range of sub-sectors like spinning, weaving, dyeing, printing, finishing and knitting. More importantly, it is their critical role as backward linkage industry--supplying most of the fabric and yarn to the export-oriented garment factories--that makes the textile mills uniquely distinctive. Currently, garment factories procure more than 70 per cent of their raw materials for export of woven garments and almost hundred per cent of knit garments from the local textile mills.

The BTMA in a letter to the power, energy and mineral resources minister pressed upon the need to urgently address the situation. The situation is worrying-- not just for the millers but for the country's garment export. Presently, following a brief span of abundant export orders in the past few months, there is a lull which industry insiders fear might dip further if the exporters fail to keep their commitments to deliver shipments on time. This undesirable situation may happen if supply of raw materials from the local textile mills gets hampered due to gas shortage. What is important to note here is that given the volatile international market marked by increasing competition, a slump in export of a seasonal product like garment due to supply disruption may leave a long-term effect on RMG business.

Given the situation and the worries expressed by the industry people, the authorities should put in their best to mend the situation. Any technical glitch responsible for the gas shortage should be identified and fixed as soon as possible.

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