| GEO Business|
| Decision on two weekly off days, petrol pump closure for a day likely this month|
| Updated at: 1557 PST, Monday, September 08, 2008|
ISLAMABAD: The government is expected to announce two weekly off days and closure of petrol pumps for one day in a week to reduce oil consumption this month. ďAn announcement about five-day week and closure of petrol pumps for one day is expected this month after approval of Punjab government consent, sources said.
Power and fuel consumption will decrease after the decision which will help reduce increasing import bill.
The oil import bill, which surged to around $12 billion or almost 30 per cent of total imports of about $40 billion in 2007-08, was more than 55 per cent higher than $7.33 billion a year ago, mainly because of higher international prices and increased consumption.
The consumption of petroleum products went up by about 19 per cent to 10 million tons from 8.6 million tons, while crude imports surged by 5.2 per cent to 8.6 million tons from 8.2 million tons in 2006-07.
The fiscal deficit reached 7.7 per cent of GDP or Rs777 billion against the budgeted target of 4.2 per cent of Rs398 billion. The current account deficit, too, set a new record at almost $16 billion last year with no respite in the initial two months of the current fiscal year.
The government had estimated the oil import bill to stay at $8.8 billion in 2007-08, but it had to pay about $2.6 billion (Rs170 billion) more because the estimates had been based on an expected international crude price of $70 per barrel.
Petroleum emerged as the largest contributor to the total import of $39.97 billion in 2007-08, followed by machinery imports at $7.4 billion, which was 10.32 per cent higher than $6.7 billion of 2006-07.