Pakistan trims working week to help fix energy crisis | Daily News

Pakistan trims working week to help fix energy crisis

PAKISTAN: Pakistan’s Government ended Saturday as a work day for its employees under a raft of energy-saving measures aimed at easing fuel shortages that have triggered rolling 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 lower energy 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 consider making Friday a mandatory work-from-home day for its employees. Discussion are being carried out with provincial authorities to switch off street lights on alternate days.

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 to key sectors, including the textile factories that account for about half of Pakistan’s export earnings.

Pakistan’s curbs on energy consumption by the public sector were taken to steer the country out of an “extraordinary situation,” Aurangzeb said Tuesday 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 increase fuel prices by 40% and electricity rates by almost 50% to meet requirements set by the International Monetary Fund to resume a bailout program that’s key for the nation to avoid a default.

Meanwhile, After facing backlash from its citizens over a hike in electricity prices as well as power shortage, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif-led Government on Monday apologized to the masses and vowed to rectify the problem of load-shedding.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said that the government was “sorry” for the ongoing electricity load-shedding in the country and vowed to fix the issue in the coming days, reported Geo News.

Former Prime Minister Abbasi said that the authorities had to opt for a four-hour load-shedding due to shortfall and the government needs time to rectify power shortage.

He said that once coal is imported, load-shedding will move below three hours by June 16, reported Geo News.

In a press conference flanked by federal ministers, Abbasi said the government needed time to rectify the power shortage as the country was producing 21,000 megawatts and there was a shortfall of 4,000 megawatts.

Abbasi said Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif held a meeting in this regard and decided to reduce load-shedding to 3.5 hours, adding that additional funds have been released to facilitate power providers.

In the next phase, when coal is imported, load-shedding will move below three hours by June 16, Abbasi said, adding that from June 30, the power outages will be in between 1.5-2 hours only.

He added the government hopes that the duration of the load-shedding will further decrease in July.



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