Wednesday Jun 08, 2022
In an attempt to save energy, the National Economic Council (NEC) has decided to order the closure of markets across the country at 8:30pm.
The NEC took the decision Wednesday during a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. The chief ministers of all provinces attended the meeting, while Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was represented by its chief secretary, Dr Shehzad Khan.
The NEC met a day after President Ari Alvi approved the reconstitution of the body with Prime Minister Shehbaz as the chairman.
According to a statement issued in this regard, the chief ministers appreciated the steps taken by the federal government to deal with the energy crisis and the four provinces agreed on the proposal of markets' closure at 8.30pm.
The statement added that chief ministers of Sindh, Punjab, and Balochistan have sought two days' time to hold consultations with the traders’ association in their provinces — but all the four provinces have agreed with the move in principle.
The chief ministers also backed the decisions of the federal cabinet on nationwide measures to deal with the energy crisis and assured their full cooperation in tackling it.
Power Minister Khurrum Dastagir, addressing a press conference, said that the early closure of markets and work-from-home arrangements can save electricity.
“The electricity being produced in the country is 22,000 MW and the requirement is 26,000 MW,” said the minister, adding that the energy shortfall in the country is 4,000 MW.
He also said that the industrial sector was being provided with power uninterruptedly and that 1,100 MW will be added to the national grid once the K-2 Nuclear Power Plant starts production.
All Pakistan Traders Association President Ajmal Baloch, in response, said that he rejected the government's suggestion to shut down markets at 8:30pm.
"Traders, under no circumstances, will close shops at 8:30pm. The government should facilitate traders instead of creating hurdles for them," the trader association's leader said in a statement.
Baloch suggested that the government should cut off the free power supply to sectors.
"Poor people will only be able to turn their fans on once the rulers shut down their ACs."
He added that if the government cannot provide electricity to the traders, then it should allow them to remain operational through generators.
Baloch said that since extreme temperatures are persistent, people avoid going to markets during the day, and they come out to shop during the evening.
"The proposal of opening the shops in the day is not practical," he added.