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    Closing Markets and Malls: Pakistan’s Energy Conservation Plan

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    In response to the ongoing energy crisis, Karachi Commissioner Muhammad Iqbal Memon has directed the closure of shopping malls and markets by 8:30 pm. The directive was issued to the city’s deputy commissioners after receiving instructions from the federal government. Additionally, the commissioner ordered the implementation of Islamabad’s orders regarding the energy crisis, which included the closure of wedding halls and restaurants by 10 pm.

    The energy conservation plan approved by the federal government in January aimed to save around Rs62 billion annually by banning the use of inefficient appliances and closing markets and malls by 8:30 pm. The plan was a response to the worsening economic conditions in the country, as Pakistan desperately needs external financing, with foreign exchange reserves of around $3 billion, barely enough for a month’s worth of imports.

    In an effort to keep the country afloat and meet the International Monetary Fund’s conditions, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif announced austerity measures to save Rs 200 billion. As part of the government’s energy conservation plan, the prime minister warned that malls and markets would have their power supply cut off if they did not comply with the closure time of 8:30 pm.

    The government’s negotiations with the IMF continue, as Pakistan hopes to sign a staff-level agreement that will pave the way for more inflows from other bilateral and multilateral lenders. Once the program is revived, the lender will disburse a tranche of more than $1 billion from the $6.5 billion bailout facility signed in 2019.

    The current energy crisis in Pakistan has resulted from a combination of factors, including a lack of investment in the energy sector, a growing population, and inefficient energy usage. The government’s measures to conserve energy and cut expenses across different sectors are necessary to address the crisis and ensure the country’s economic stability. It remains to be seen whether the implementation of the energy conservation plan will be effective in reducing energy consumption and improving the country’s economic conditions.

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