KARACHI: The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) announced on Wednesday a number of measures aimed at conserving energy.

It asked banks through a circular to formulate a work-from-home policy for their staffers and use air-conditioners economically.

In its directive to the CEOs of banks and microfinance banks, including development finance institutions, the SBP said they should save fuel in view of the growing energy problems.

“The air-conditioners at ATM vestibules may be used economically,” said the SBP. ATMs do not work without air-conditioners as they require regular cooling. This means ATMs may not work after sunset.

“The banks may close all of their premises, including branches, at 7pm or earlier and switch off their electric supply, except for any emergency use, call centres, monitoring of alternative delivery channels (ADCs), back-ups and maintaining necessary electrical/IT equipment,” it said.

The SBP further said electrically illuminated signboards of branches and other offices will remain switched off at all times.

The government’s drive began in the wake of falling foreign exchange reserves and high prices of petroleum products in the international market. It inflated the import bill to an all-time high, making fuel hardly affordable for a large part of the population. Market timings have also been reduced to save energy.

The SBP expects that the banking industry will also play its role for energy and fuel conservation.

“The banks may formulate a policy on work-from-home (WFH) whereby banks’ offices (other than branches) can observe one or two days in every week as WFH to achieve the intended objectives,” said the SBP.

The banks have been asked to hold their meetings (intra/inter-city etc) virtually and also curtail their local as well as international travelling expenses.

The banks will encourage their staff to pool their transportation for commuting to and from their respective offices and take any other measures for reducing the commute of the bank staff. The banks may adopt the use of alternative and cost-effective sources of energy, such as the deployment of solar technologies, and encourage the use of energy-efficient equipment, fixtures and appliances on their premises.

“The banks may take any other steps to curtail the consumption of electricity and fuel in their respective offices, including branches,” said the SBP.

The banks will enhance awareness of their employees as well as customers about energy conservation initiatives and encourage them to take part in this drive.

Such measures should be effective by July 1, SBP said.

Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2022

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