Defence Minister Khawaja Asif announced on Tuesday that the federal cabinet has approved the National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Plan — a policy aimed at saving energy — under which the timings of markets and wedding halls have been curtailed.
The development comes as the government resolves to reduce circular debt in the energy sector.
Media reports quoting the power division have said that the circular debt which stood at Rs2.253 trillion by end of September last year had now reached Rs2.437 trillion, showing an increase of Rs185bn.
Briefing the media after a meeting of the federal cabinet today, Asif said that the timings of wedding halls and markets across the country will be limited to 10pm and 8:30pm respectively.
“The plan will change the overall lifestyle and habit pattern of the nation and save us Rs60 billion.”
Asif said that the production of fans run on electricity will be halted by July. “Inefficient fans use around 120-130 watts of electricity. Across the globe, fans are available that use 60-80 watts,” he said, adding that the import duty on “inefficient” fans will be increased.
Moreover, he revealed that after Feb 1, 2023, incandescent bulbs would not be manufactured and additional taxes will be imposed on the ones that were imported. “We can say Rs22 billion by doing this.”
The minister went on to say that all government buildings and officers will consume efficient energy under the plan. “Court buildings and housing societies are also included in this.”
“Similarly, we have also decided to make the use of conical geysers mandatory within a year. These geysers use less gas and this way we will be able to save Rs92 billion.”
Asif also said that the government had decided to use street lights alternatively which he claimed would save Rs4 billion.
Furthermore, he said that the government would be introducing electric motorcycles this year. “Pakistan is using oil worth $3 billion annually. These e-bikes will be slightly expensive but we will provide financing and the costs will hopefully be covered within a year.”
Asif added that the federal cabinet had directed the formation of a committee to look into the work-from-home policy and the process will be completed within 8 to 10 days.
The government, the minister continued, was also bringing a building code for the construction sector as the maintenance cost of cement, iron and glass is very high.
He said that the authorities had discussed the conservation plan with traders from across the countries and “there is a consensus on it”.
“We even went to the president and briefed him on the plan. He supported it and gave us more constructive suggestions,” the minister told journalists, adding that “we requested him to play his role for the cause in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab”.
The plan, Asif added, would be enforced immediately and the cabinet will monitor it.
He also said that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had instructed all federal departments to decrease their energy consumption by 30 per cent.
“Today, symbolically, no lights were switched on in the cabinet room. All the curtains were open […] the curtains were removed and all the work was done under the natural sunlight.”
Punjab, traders’ body reject plan; KP undecided
Meanwhile, the All Pakistan Anjuman-i-Tajiran (APAT) and the Punjab government rejected the Centre’s energy conservation plan as the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government was undecided about its implementation.
In a statement, senior Punjab minister Mian Aslam Iqbal said the provincial government had rejected the federal government’s plan to conserve electricity. “The federal government’s decision is not accepted by the Punjab government,” he said.
In a press release, APAT President Ajmal Baloch said shops and restaurants would not close before 10pm and 11pm, respectively. Conserving energy by putting the brakes on the economy is not a wise decision, he said.
Baloch proposed conserving energy by cutting down on the use of air conditioners and heaters in government buildings, and restricting the fuel and power privileges for bureaucrats and government officials.
He further said that the business community should be provided uninterrupted power supply to keep the economic wheel spinning.
Meanwhile, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government spokesperson, Barrister Mohammad Ali Saif, said that the provincial government was not taken on board when drafting the policy.
He further said that the province’s input was also not sought when deciding the timings for the closure of shops and markets. “The KP government is already taking steps to conserve energy,” he said, adding that steps were also being taken to combat environmental pollution.
Saif said that the provincial government had not yet decided on implementing the energy conservation plan.
Additional input from Tahir Sherani, Umar Farooq and Siraj