Pakistan trims working week by a day to help fix energy crisis

Published on Jun 08, 2022 01:25 PM IST

Lunches, dinners and high-teas will no longer be served to officials, and the government will also consider making Friday a mandatory work-from-home day for its employees.

Pakistan's prime minister-elect Shehbaz Sharif(AFP)
Pakistan's prime minister-elect Shehbaz Sharif(AFP)
Bloomberg |

Pakistan’sgovernment ended Saturday as a work day for its employees under a raft of energy-saving measures aimed at easing fuel shortages that have triggeredrolling blackouts.

Purchases of new vehicles for use by officials and appliances such as air conditioners will be stopped, the volume of fuel allocated to government offices will be cut by 40% and overseas trips will be halted, according to Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb. The nation is aiming to lowerenergy consumption at government offices by 10%, she said.

Lunches, dinners and high-teas will no longer be served to officials, and the government will also considermakingFriday a mandatory work-from-home day for its employees. Discussion arebeing carried out withprovincial authorities to switch offstreet lights on alternate days.

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Pakistan is bearing the brunt of a global energy crunch prompted byrebounding post-pandemic demand anda squeeze on fuel supply as many nations shun Russian fuel exports because of the country’s war in Ukraine.Japan, another nation heavily reliant on energy imports,this week stepped up appeals to citizens and companies to conserve electricity.

Surging energy prices and blackouts are a test for Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s administration, which came into power in April after a period of political upheaval.Sharif made Saturday a working day for public servants soon after being elected.

The nation’s energy import costs doubled in the 10 months ended April, while supplies to some exporting industries have also been cut off. Restrictions on power usage will pose further risks tokey sectors, including the textile factories that accountfor about half of Pakistan’s export earnings.

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Pakistan’s curbs on energy consumption by the public sector were taken to steer the country out of an “extraordinary situation,” Aurangzeb saidTuesday in Islamabad. The nation is producing 21,000 megawatts of electricity and has demand of 28,400 megawatts amid a new heatwave.

Sharif’s government has also had to increasefuel prices by 40% and electricity rates by almost 50% to meet requirements set by the International Monetary Fund to resume a bailout program that’skey for the nation to avoid a default.

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