ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Textile has expressed severe concern over the downward trend of cotton production in the country. “The export-oriented cotton crop, 80 percent of which is being used for the value added products to be exported, has seen sharp decline since last year, and should be stopped by taking special measures in this regard,” said Senator Mohsin Aziz while presiding over the committee on Tuesday. He said due to the fact that the cotton growers were not receiving fair price against their product, they were converting to other cash crops like maize and sugarcane, which would further help reduce exports of the country. Aziz said the textile industry was crippling due to the non-existence of any solid policy in the textile sector. The committee was informed that last year, cotton production in Punjab witnessed decline of 43 percent compared to the preceding year mainly due to unprecedented rains in the area. The committee was also informed that in Punjab, cotton was being cultivated on 430,000 acres land this year, as compared to the area of 540,000 in 2014, which shows that in the next season the production would go further down. Textile industrialist Akbar Seth, who was invited as special guest in the committee, claimed that last year, the growers had to face Rs 22 billion losses due to price variation in the open market. He said the per acre cotton yield is the lowest in Pakistan compared to other regions mainly due to the fact that there was no genuine seed company in Pakistan. “The government should focus on introducing latest seed technology and certified seeds should be distributed to the growers in order to increase per acre yield. Cotton cultivation area in Pakistan was decreasing while it had increased threefold in India,” he added. Textile Ministry Cotton Commissioner Khalid Abdullah however informed that there were about 750 registered seed companies in the country who were providing the cotton growers 50 percent certified cotton seeds while the remaining demand was being met by sowing uncertified seeds. He said in Pakistan, obsolete first generation seed technology was being used while the world had shifted to the 3rd generation seed technology. He said in order to introduce the latest seed technology, a Plant Breeder Right Act was pending in the National Assembly for the last 10 years. Senator Khushakht Shujat expressed her concern over the non-serious attitude of the concerned authorities towards the most important sector of the country. Earlier, the committee recommended the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to review the five percent duty on import of cotton, as it should be included in the zero-rated regime keeping in view the shortage of raw cotton in the country. FBR Chairman Nisar Muhammad Khan said that the import duty on raw material being used for textile industry was entitled to refund. But, the committee chairman said that refund claim was a complex process therefore it should be zero-rated. The FBR chairman informed the committee that the board had taken several measures to simplify the refund system, adding that all those refunds would be cleared by August, 31, 2016 of which Refund Payment Orders (RPO) had been issued before June 3.