The winding up of the Pakistan Textile City (PTC) is an expensive example of how not to do business, and considering that the current government came to power as a business-friendly entity it is looking shabby and threadbare to say nothing of waste of money and goodwill. That said, this is not the only government to bear responsibility for the PTC demise as every government since its still birth carries responsibility. This failed enterprise has cost Rs2.5 billion and its liabilities have grown to Rs5 billion in the last decade.
The PTC never really stood a chance of viability and the fact that it has no water, gas or electricity connection ensured its death long ago. Investors are now to vote on winding up of the project and if 75 per cent do so then the line is drawn. The government has ordered the disposal of all assets and the transfer of the land to the Port Qasim Authority.
There seems little point in doing an autopsy beyond observing that Pakistan ought to be a world leader in the textile industry and cannot afford expensive blunders of this nature. The textile industry has already suffered grievously in recent years due to power shortages and some manufacturers have transferred plant and production abroad, including to Bangladesh — something of an irony. The PTC represents 13 years of wasted opportunity. Jobs have been lost and a core industry has contracted. It should have been a jewel in the business crown and the catalyst for growth but a lack of political will and a complete failure of vision for a productive future has left it a brownfield site and nothing to show but a mountain of debt — which is currently accumulating at Rs800,000 a day. Perhaps the only positive thing that can be said of this miserable affair is that the government has stepped in and killed it off before it hemorrhages any more money. Reviving the textile industry should perhaps move up the ‘to do’ list of the new prime minister bearing in mind that textile workers are also voters — and loyalties can shift in these uncertain times.