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Govt ignores resistance to ending five-day week

June 28, 2012

ISLMABAD, June 27: Despite resistance from the bureaucracy, the government is likely to abolish the Saturday weekly off this week and a notification is expected to be issued by the Prime Minister’s secretariat soon.

The decision had been taken at an informal meeting of the top political managers of the country, sources said, adding that even the new prime minister was in favour of reverting to six-day week in federal government departments.

“It is difficult to assess how much electricity is being saved by shutting down Islamabad on Saturdays,” Petroleum Minister Dr Asim Hussain said, adding “but one thing is clear that productivity has gone down”.

He said it had been observed that actual working hours remained less despite two holidays, whereas the overall presence in federal government offices declined significantly after Friday prayers.

“I do not see any office where staff and officers are ready for work at 8:45am,” the minister said. “We all have realised that the overall productivity of the federal government has to be enhanced and public dealing timings increased.”

As per the procedure, the interior ministry would notify the new office timings to the federal government departments and ministries.

An official of the ministry of water and power said the main pressure against declaring Saturday a working day had come from the finance ministry and bureaucrats.

Even politicians have expressed concern over the limited working hours available at the centre.

“The major beneficiaries of two weekly offs are bureaucrats of central Punjab, mainly Lahore,” said a PML-Q legislator.

Meanwhile, sources in the government said the finance minister and the deputy chairman of the planning commission were in favour of having two weekly offs.

The government had estimated that up to 3,000 megawatts of electricity would be saved if all government and majority of private offices did not use air-conditioners and lights on Saturdays. Similarly, there would be a significant saving in CNG, petrol and diesel consumption.