Govt restores Saturday off; decision on early closure of markets deferred


Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif chairs a meeting of the federal cabinet. -PM Office
Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif chairs a meeting of the federal cabinet. -PM Office

ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet on Tuesday approved a two-day weekend for the government employees but the decision on the early closure of markets could not be taken.

During today’s meeting, Power Division presented a summary for the “Energy Conservation Measure” that included the closure of markets by 7pm and Saturday off amid the rising prices of petroleum products.

Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif chaired the meeting during which measures to control loadshedding were also discussed which has multiplied in the last few weeks.

Ban on foreign visits, treatment abroad

Addressing a press conference following the federal cabinet meeting today, Marriyum Aurangzeb said that lunch, dinners, and high-teas have been banned at all the government offices.

She said that as part of its austerity drive, the government has banned foreign visits and treatment abroad on state expenses by the cabinet members and public officers.

The government has also banned the procurement of vehicles for the officers and the ministers, she said, adding that they have decided to shift the official meetings to virtual.

The government has started implementing the austerity measures from today, the minister added.

The cabinet also approved a 40% cut in petrol entitlement of the government functionaries as per the austerity plan to control expenses, she said.

Early closure of markets

Responding to a question, about the early closure of markets, Marriyum Aurangzeb said that traders and the business community will be taken into confidence over the matter.

PM Shahbaz Sharif will have a meeting with all the chief ministers and take them into confidence over the matter.

Work from home on Fridays

The minister added that a proposal was shared to implement a “work from home” policy on Fridays, however, the premier has formed a committee to deliberate on it further and suggest a framework.

Electoral reforms top priority

Marriyum Aurangzeb said that electoral reforms are the top priority of the coalition government. She maintained that they would launch a high-level inquiry into Daska by-election fraud.

She said that the Daska by-election fraud is a test case for the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). The information minister said that they would take the matter to its logical end so that no one could sabotage the elections in the future.

Load-shedding to be reduced to 2 hours after June 30

On the loadshedidng issue, Marriyum Aurangzeb said that the duration would be reduced to two hours a day after June 30.

600MW electricity would be added to the national grid system from the Port Qasim power plant by June 30.

On Monday, Minister for Defence Khawaja Asif proposed four and a half working days in a week to help conserve fuel and energy amid soaring fuel prices and power shortages.

The defence minister took to his Twitter to share his suggestions and wrote, “In the current situation, all over the country, there should be a complete holiday on Saturday and Sunday and a half working day on Friday in every week.”

He proposed that there should be four and a half working days in a week, adding that there should be an increase in office timings by an hour in working days.

In a separate meeting last week chaired by the premier, the federal minister gave a suggestion to change market timings.

Khawaja Asif had strongly opposed the proposal to open markets from 1pm noon to 1am, emphasising to open markets only in the daytime to utilise sunlight properly, as it is available for 365 days.

He had said that if the markets would adjust their timings accordingly, we could save 3,500MW even without Karachi, adding that tough decisions have to be made.



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