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

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani government ended Saturday as a working day for its workers under a series of energy-saving measures aimed at reducing fuel shortages that have led to ongoing blackouts.
According to Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb, purchases of new vehicles for use by officials and devices such as air conditioners will be halted, the amount of fuel allocated to government buildings will be reduced by 40% and overseas travel will be halted. The nation aims to cut energy consumption in government buildings by 10%, she said.
Lunches, dinners and high teas are no longer served to civil servants and the government is considering making Friday a mandatory work-from-home day for its employees. Consultations are being held with the province to switch off the street lighting every other day.
Pakistan has been hit hardest by a global energy crisis triggered by a post-pandemic demand pick-up and a fuel shortage as many countries eschew Russian fuel exports due to the country’s war in Ukraine. Japan, another country heavily dependent on energy imports, this week appealed to citizens and businesses to save electricity.
Rising energy prices and blackouts are a test for the government of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who came to power in April after a period of political turmoil. Sharif made Saturday a working day for officials shortly after her election.
The country’s energy import costs have doubled in the 10 months ending April, while supplies to some exporting industries have also been cut. Restrictions on power consumption will pose further risks to key sectors, including textile mills which account for about half of Pakistan’s export revenue.
Pakistan’s restrictions on public sector energy consumption were taken to steer the country out of an “extraordinary situation,” Aurangzeb said in Islamabad on Tuesday. The country produces 21,000 megawatts of electricity and has a demand of 28,400 megawatts amid another heat wave.
Sharif’s government has also had to raise fuel prices by 40% and electricity rates by nearly 50% to meet International Monetary Fund demands to resume a bailout program essential for the nation to avoid bankruptcy. to prevent.
Other steps proposed by Pakistan include:
*Automotive tuning centers would be expanded across the country as regular checkups improve fuel efficiency.
*Government meetings are held online to avoid unnecessary travel.
*An awareness campaign will be launched to educate people about saving energy.

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