Currently going through a harrowing economic crisis, the Pakistan government on Tuesday announced a slew of plans to reduce energy consumption and in turn reduce the financial load on the exchequer.
The government proposed to close markets and wedding halls by 8:30 PM and 10 PM respectively to keep the rising debt in check.
“The plan will change the overall lifestyle and habit pattern of the nation and save us $26 million (Pkr 60 billion),” Pakistan Defence Minister Khawaja Asif was quoted as saying by Dawn.
The radical changes by Asif also included a plan to halt the production of fans running on electricity by July.
“Inefficient fans use around 120-130 watts of electricity. Across the globe, fans are available that use 60-80 watts.”
Similarly, the manufacturing of incandescent bulbs will be stopped from next month. Meanwhile, the government will make the use of conical geysers mandatory and employ alternative use of streetlights to further cut the wage bill.
Asif added the country is going through a ‘critical’ situation and that it could not afford to sustain current levels of power consumption. He also announced plans of implementing a ‘work from home policy’.
“All government buildings and offices will also reduce use of energy under the plan, and a policy to work from home will be completed in 10 days,” said Asif before adding, “No lights were on in the cabinet meeting today. The meeting was held in full sunlight.”
According to reports quoting Pakistan’s power division, the country’s circular debt stood at $10.5 billion (Rs2.437 trillion) which was an increase of $815 million (Rs 185 billion) from September last year.
Such is the state of the economy that Islamabad is unable to provide basic amenities to a common Pakistani citizen. Notably, people are being forced to store LPG (cooking gas) in plastic balloons and bags as the government fails to address the shortage in supply.
In the videos that have gone viral on different social media platforms, citizens in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province can be seen storing cooking gas in plastic bags due to shortage.
Local media reports have suggested that people in Hangu city of the province have been living without gas for the past two years.
Pakistan’s fiscal deficit stood at 1.5 per cent of GDP during July-October 2022-23. The country’s foreign exchange reserves plummeted to its lowest since April 2014 last month when it shrank by $294 million to $5.8 billion, primarily due to external debt repayment.
Consequently, economic pundits have sounded the warning bells that Pakistan might be perilously close to default.
(With inputs from agencies)
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