Govt unveils ‘early to bed, early to rise’ policy

Published January 4, 2023
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif chairs a meeting of the cabinet in Islamabad on Tuesday. — PID photo
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif chairs a meeting of the cabinet in Islamabad on Tuesday. — PID photo

• Markets to shutter at 8:30pm, wedding halls at 10pm
• Minister says plan in place to replace petrol-run motorcycles with e-bikes
• Review of water tariff for rural and urban areas on the cards
• Conical baffles in geysers to be made mandatory within a year
• Inefficient fans, bulbs to be phased out

ISLAMABAD: In order to stabilise the economy, the federal cabinet on Tuesday decided to implement “bold” decisions that include the closure of markets at 8:30pm and wedding halls at 10pm, the use of efficient electronic appliances, and a 40 per cent reduction in power consumption in government offices.

The cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, also vowed to enforce these decisions under a National Energy Conservation Plan, introducing certain measures to ensure judicious utilisation of national resources.

In the cabinet meeting on Dec 20, the government had already approved a comprehensive National Emer­gency Plan for the conservation of energy to save hundreds of billions of rupees.

“The approval to the conservation plan has been accorded in line with the advice of the Power Division. It will come into force at once across the country,” Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said after the cabinet meeting.

Mr Asif said restaurants, hotels, and markets would be shut down by 8:30pm and marriage halls by 10pm. “With this initiative, which has been taken in consultation with trade bodies, there will be a saving of around Rs 62 billion [annually].

He said additional duties would also be imposed on inefficient electric fans, whose production would be halted from July 1, 2023.

The use of energy-efficient fans, which were easily available in the market, would help save Rs15 billion annually as they consumed about 40 to 60 watts of electricity as compared to the old ones consuming about 120 to 130 watts.

The defence minister said there would a saving of approximately Rs 23 billion annually with the use of light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs. “No production of incandescent bulbs will be allowed after February 1, 2023, and a duty will also be imposed on them,” he added.

Mr Asif added only two factories were producing such bulbs, one in Lahore and the other near Peshawar, and there would be no effect on their business. “The decision would help the country save Rs22 billion per annum, whereas the federal government departments would have to install energy efficient electric appliances, including fans and LED bulbs to avert excessive power consumption,” he added.

Khawaja Asif said the government was in negotiation with motorcycle manufacturing companies for the production of electric bikes. “The motorcycles that run on petrol will slowly be phased out. We have already been importing e-bikes and had started negotiations with motorcycle companies for the modification of existing ones […], this will help save us around Rs86 billion.”

The minister said all stakeholders, including the traders’ community, were taken on board about the decisions to be made by the cabinet for the conservation of energy, which would have long-term effects.

He noted that Pakistan was blessed with bright sunlight 365 days a year – a huge renewable energy potential, but it was bearing the heavy cost of energy produced on imported fuel.

“Today, symbolically no light was on in the cabinet meeting room, with all curtains removed from window panes, and the cabinet members worked in daylight,” the minister said and suggested architectural changes for more vibrantly luminous houses.

The minister underlined that some 29,000 megawatts (MW) electricity was consumed during the summer and 12,000 MW in the winter. Approximately 17,000 MW more electricity was used in the summer, including 5,300 MW by air conditioners and 12,000 MW by fans.

The minister said reforms were underway in housing societies’ by-laws and building codes to ensure energy efficient infrastructure.

He said the installation of conical baffles in geysers within a year was made mandatory. The baffle provided cost-intensive heating for warm water as “it traps heat using less energy”, which would help save Rs92 billion per year.

The street lights, as a symbolic measure, would be illuminated only at 50 per cent capacity and it would provide an incentive to the public for energy conservation and would help save Rs4 billion per year, he said.

For water conservation, he said, wholehearted measures would be taken, including review of water tariff for rural and urban areas. The building control authorities were directed to ensure water conservation measures in housing societies, incorporating the same in their by-laws.

Published in Dawn, January 4th, 2023

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