KARACHI: City’s private stakeholders have expressed their strong reservations over curtailment of business timings as proposed by the federal government under its ‘National Energy Conservation Plan’.
A team of provincial government led by Minister for Labour and Human Resources Saeed Ghani with Excise & Taxation Minister Mukesh Kumar Chawla and Minister for Industries Jam Ikaramullah Dharjeo being the other members held a consultative session with representatives of major markets, marriage halls and restaurants to convince them to observe the proposed timings but the other side demanded some relief with a view to save their businesses from collapse.
The ministers’ team was assisted by Karachi Administrator Syed Saif-ur-Rehman, city’s Commissioner Iqbal Memon and senior police officials. Over a dozen organisations representing major markets, marriage halls and restaurant owners attended the meeting.
Owners of wedding halls, eateries propose operation till midnight, round-the-clock food delivery also urged
Matter to go back to Centre
The outcome of the crucial session is likely to cause some delay in implementing the federal plan as the provincial government has held out the assurance that contentions of businessmen, traders and owners of wedding halls and restaurants would be discussed with the relevant federal authorities.
The Sindh government told the other side that it would “try its best” to find ways so that their commercial interests were not undermined.
The session was called by the provincial government to take the business and trade community on board before taking a decision on the energy conservation plan. It lasted more than three hours during which representatives of the community shared their serious concerns over the proposed closure timings.
Relief in closure timings sought
Saeed Ghani said: “It’s the federal government that has proposed certain stringent measures, including curtailing business hours, due to the country’s unsatisfactory economic situation.” In his conclusive remarks at the session, he said: “The federal government has suggested closure of all markets by 8pm daily and restaurants and wedding halls by 10pm. However, we will try our best to convince the federal authorities to consider concerns of the stakeholders in the city.”
“I hope that the demands put forward by the concerned business owners of the city would be accepted to a great extent,” he said.
The business and trade leaders suggested that shopping centres and retail stores in the city should be allowed to remain open from 11am to 9pm. Some of them demanded that markets should be allowed to remain open till 10pm on Saturdays.
Restaurant owners suggested that eateries in the city should be allowed to operate till 12 midnight and home delivery service should remain functional round-the-clock.
They suggested that government offices should be closed by 3pm and bank branches should limit their business hours to 4pm daily.
Marriage halls’ owners offered to switch off lights at wedding venues by 11pm and completely close them by 12 midnight after conclusion of ceremonies.
Harassment by police
The businessmen and traders unanimously came up with complaint about “inhuman attitude” of the police, recalling their past experiences that they [police] in such a situation always harassed them and in some cases even treated minor violation of rules as an “act of terrorism”. They also suggested switching off the lights of the signboards to conserve electricity.
Energy conservation plan
The federal government last week came out with its National Energy Conservation Plan citing the principle of “Early to bed, Early to rise” urging nation to “save daylight hours and expect billions in savings”.
The plan envisages drastic measures like closure of markets, eateries and wedding halls by 8pm, work-from-home facility for 20 per cent of government employees, introduction of electric motorbikes, use of energy-efficient bulbs and fans, solarisation of government buildings, water conversation, rain harvesting, use of “conical baffle” devices in gas-run geysers, etc.
Published in Dawn, December 30th, 2022