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Proposal to shut markets at 8.30pm across Pakistan under consideration


A recommendation to close markets at 8.30pm across Pakistan in an effort to conserve energy came under discussion on Wednesday during a meeting of the freshly reconstituted National Economic Council (NEC).

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif chaired the meeting, which was attended by the chief ministers of Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan did not attend the meeting while chief secretary Shehzad Bangash represented the province.

According to a handout issued after the meeting, all four provinces agreed in principle on the proposal to close down markets by 8.30pm. However, the chief ministers of Sindh, Balochistan and Punjab sought two days to consult trade bodies and business communities in their respective provinces.

During the meeting, the chief ministers were consulted on the national strategy for tackling the energy crisis. The participants were also informed about the federal cabinet’s decisions and proposals for conserving energy, the statement said.

However, KP Finance Minister Taimur Khan Jhagra said on Twitter that the province had not agreed to close its markets.

Meanwhile, Minister for Power Khurram Dastgir said the government had planned a number of measures to conserve energy, including two weekly offs and work-from-home on one day of the week. He also said the government was taking practical steps to address the energy crisis.

The minister said inefficient and expensive power plants would be gradually phased out.

He said the country’s total power generation was 22,010MW while the demand was 26,227MW, adding that the shortfall stood at more than 4,000MW on June 7.

The minister said the government had decided that power plants which used imported fuel would no longer be set up. Massive investment will be carried out in the solar energy sector in order to increase its output to 10,000MW, he added.

 

The decision comes as Pakistan is currently facing an energy shortfall, with parts of the country witnessing hours-long load-shedding.

A day earlier, the federal cabinet decided that priority would be given to holding government meetings virtually till an energy conservation plan was approved. The cabinet also decided to cut the consumption of utilities at the government level and in offices by 10 per cent.

Earlier this month, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif suggested taking advantage of “365 days of sunshine” and operating markets during the day as opposed to the convention of “opening markets at 1pm and closing them at 1am”.

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Proposal to shut markets at 8.30pm across Pakistan under consideration

 

 

Published : June 09, 2022

By : DAWN