Pakistan’s pottery industry facing severe crisis due to rising gas prices

Thousands of jobs at stake as 150 pottery units in Gujarat facing threat of closure 

Nearly 150 units of pottery industry in Pakistani city Gujrat are facing the threat of closure due to high prices of gas. Thousands of jobs are at stake.The industry is producing 100,000 tons of different pottery products annually, of which 25 percent comprise mixed porcelains and 75 percent earthenware and stoneware.

Business community engaged in pottery industry has appealed to the government to take steps for its survival and to remove multifarious problems of this old industry of Gujrat. They said that pottery industry is on the verge of collapse as many units have been closed due to lack of support from the government and the problems faced by the industry since long.
The pottery industry is facing serious hardships due to the lack of research and development, patents, industrial designs, high cost and advanced technology.
This famous industry of Gujrat was totally ignored by the concerned authorities as a result of which the pottery industry has not been tracked on modern and scientific production lines. The industry currently is producing its wares through traditional manufacturing techniques and has badly failed in producing quality and standard pottery.

The manufacturers of pottery and ceramics are complaining that recent increase in the prices of gas has made them less competitive. They are saying the move would render their products noncompetitive and Chinese products could capture the entire Pakistani market in this sector.

The price of gas has been increased from Rs 2101 per MMBTU to Rs 2706 per MMBTU which means pottery industry will pay millions of rupees extra in gas bills. This will add more burden on already struggling industry.  

They are complaining that they no longer compete with China and Thailand due to the high cost of production. Manufacturers of pottery and ceramic products have lodged a strong protest against the recent hike in gas tariff which is the basic fuel for the industry.

Pakistan Pottery Manufacturers Association president Chaudhry Zaman said the tariff had almost been doubled in the fresh bills received by the manufacturing units in Gujrat that shocked the local industry.

He said the Gujrat-based pottery units were actually domestic cottage industry as some major manufacturing units had already been shut due to worst conditions of doing business. “Now the new gas tariff could result in closure of the cottage industry as well”.

He said the PPMA had decided to stage a sit-in outside the Parliament House in case the hike was not withdrawn. He said some local glass factories had already been closed due to high cost of production.

Raja Waqas Ahmed, the PPMA general secretary, said such an increase of gas tariff had never been witnessed before. “The government has purchased the RLNG on hefty prices from international market but the local industry was not capable of bearing such a pressure.”

He said that the manufacturers were compelled to increase the rates of their products due to hike in gas prices but the local industry might not survive before the Chinese products in terms of prices. Gujrat houses at least 150 pottery manufacturing units where around 30,000 workers are employed and hundreds of people are also affiliated with the trade of pottery products across the country.

The manufacturers have called upon Prime Minister Imran Khan to take notice of the matter and order withdrawal of the hike in gas tariff.The local clay potters have urged the government to take steps for the survival of over a century-old pottery industry that is at verge of destruction due to lack of government patronage and incentives.

The three big units of ceramics makers (used to make dinner and tea sets) Lone China, Regal China and Pak pro China had already been closed. The local market in Pakistan is flooded with imported pottery and ceramics products. the Chinese products are cheaper and better quality. The smuggling is also taking its toll.  

The immediate government intervention is necessary to save the local pottery industry. The livelihood of thousands of families is at stake. 

The pottery industry is facing the similar situation in Pasrur a small city near Sialkot.  A large number of small pottery units are functioning on roadsides of Pasrur and most of vendors working at their homes for earning a living. The owners of pottery units are saying that there was a great need of establishment of ‘Mini Industrial Estate’ in Pasrur city. They also demanded early provision of basic facilities under one roof for flourishing the industry.

There is urgent need to remold the century old pottery industry on modern and scientific lines as the units are still using old traditional techniques in Pasrur. The artisans engaged in clay pottery are fully capable of improving the standard and quality of its pottery manufacturing in accordance with international standard.

The government needs to take immediate steps for its survival and resolution of multifarious problems being faced by it. The lack of governmental patronage, the industry is taking last breath because many units have been closed down due to the lack of incentives, the government’s support and longstanding unresolved problems being faced by the industry. 

                                                               Rukhsana Manzoor Deputy Editor

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