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EDITORIAL: It’s about time the government seriously considered reduced working days and other ways of rationing energy as well because unless some out-of-the-box arrangement is implemented very urgently to bring down power and oil consumption, the economy will simply implode.

It turns out that the power division recommended that the new government cut working days as soon as it was sworn in.

But the prime minister had planned to introduce his famous ‘Shehbaz speed’, which worked very nicely during his long year as Punjab chief minister, to the federal government as well and instead increased the official work-week by one day and even demanded that government employees show up earlier for work.

That might have been workable had the government had the political will to bite the bullet and remove the controversial subsidies, allow prices to rise and eventually help the rupee and the current account recover some lost ground.

Yet it’s been too insecure about the time it will be allowed in office to begin burning its own political capital for the greater good so soon. The only practical way of bringing down the energy bill for the time being is an engineered demand destruction; or at least plenty of reduction.

SBP (State Bank of Pakistan) has prepared estimates, based on three different scenarios of reducing working days, that are expected to save anywhere from $1.5 billion to $2.7 billion every year. One proposal has four working days and three holidays in which retail business will remain open.

The second one has four working days, two holidays and one day of lockdown. And the third has four working days, one holiday and two days of lockdown. The third one is rightly being considered a little too aggressive, so there’s a good chance that one of the first two options will be accepted as official policy for the immediate term.

The current account does not have much to celebrate despite exports and remittances breaking records this April; the former staying above $3 billion for the second consecutive month and the latter rising above $3 billion in a month for the first time. Already the oil import bill for 10 months of the ongoing fiscal (Jul-Apr), at $17 billion, is 96 percent higher than the same period of last year.

And with no more aid till the IMF programme is in limbo, the international commodity super cycle still playing out, and political uncertainty spooking financial markets and driving away foreign investment, the reserves position is in extreme danger.

Usually, such situations require more people to put in more hours of work every day to push the economy forward. But in our particular situation, when reducing oil expenditure is of primary importance, exactly the opposite needs to be done.

And they’ll have to do more than just reduce working days to make this strategy of energy conservation work. They will also have to adjust daily working hours, especially for retail outlets, to get most of the business done during daylight hours. Reducing the number of public functions, as well as the number of people allowed in them, would also be a good idea.

All this is not at all desirable, but very important. Yet even if this strategy is adopted and followed to the letter, it will only give very little extra elbow room. The government will still have to carry out reforms that will have structural improvement to show for all the pain that everybody must go through because of them.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022


Comments are closed.

Imran Hameed May 28, 2022 04:16pm
in addition to above promoting the culture of work from need to be developed - it will reduce working hours but not the work done - secondly public / private functions with reduced no of people , may only be allowed in day time ( lunch ) not at night ( dinner ) thanks
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SAMIR SARDANA May 28, 2022 10:49pm
Pakistan has a population of 220 million.Assuming a family size of 5,you have 44 million families.Assuming that 1 member of every 3 families has a job - half of them should be shifted to work from home,on skype for the higher paid jobs (who travel in their own conveyance for work) Assuming that 1 in 3 families,travel to shop every 3 days.Some products have to mandatorily shifted to E-Commerce in towns and cities,with I - Penetration and a population size.That will reduce the energy signature of travel,and elect usage in shops and malls, and decentralised godowns and stocking points.So it will reduce the cost to consumers and e-retailer - but many conventional retailers,will have to close down - or shift to E-COMMERCE,and be competitive E-Commerce will bring retail,into VAT net - and so,will boost Govtt revenues.dindooohindoo
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Shahzad Lashari May 28, 2022 11:50pm
Need to work on how to reduce dependence on imported oil
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Irfan Siyal May 29, 2022 04:28pm
We being a nation must adopt practical approach rather then arguments. No.1 Reducing working day or days is best option will save petrol and electricity but lockdown will create Panic in public. No. 2 We can reverse clock by 1 hour to take advantage and benefit of sun light. No.3 Big stores/malls/mobile shops/electronics shops etc timing should be set to open from from 3 PM to 10 PM as their opening in early hours is not result oriented as mostly people in this time are busy in offices, if you see in realty mostly people come out for shopping in the evening due to heat wave and hot weather during day time. Finally being a nation we should also save electricity and petrol by using them when very necessary by putting off light when not in use and vehicles when necessary to use. Thanks Pakistan Zindabad
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Shahzad Ali May 29, 2022 06:07pm
It is to highlight that no individual or institute is serious in fighting deficiency of electric power. To give an example i have installed 15 kva grid tie solar in rawalpindi iesco jurisdiction. I spent 20 lac my only consumption is 7 kva. Complete system installed since 4 months but wapda that too iesco is not issuing green meter. I am ready to pay them hell money to enable them easily go to hell yet i failed. Only cost of meter in market is 15k. Even few got meter after one year. So no one to ask in iesco the capital how you expect problem to be resolved. Same way citizen portal had a positive contribution you could at least raise voice against ills of society stoped immediately on change of government. Fed up even in capital . I can assure if someone gives 15 days time for issuance of net meter people are ready to invest and make electricity for themselves and for country.
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Sohail May 29, 2022 09:27pm
Three words that can set Pakistan free. WORK FROM HOME.
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Shahid Mushtaq May 29, 2022 10:15pm
Three holiday is best option
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Ubaid Bilal May 30, 2022 12:28am
I thing so 4 working days and threw holidays are good thing.
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Arif Raza May 30, 2022 12:49am
Another option of promoting and facilitating self power generation for industries and give some tax benefit for those companies who produce their own power and do not need to reduce working hours to get more productivity.
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Amin May 30, 2022 02:52am
I dont think this will put an impact on consumption, ppl couldn't live without electricity. If tbey are at home they will be using utilities & regarding fuel consumption more holidays will invite more outings. On the other hand the 4 working days schedule will create more financual crisis resulting in law n order situation. The best thing here is to design electricity temporarily slab tax in a way that the use of high electricity consumption devices like a/c etc gets discouraged & the extra revenue which gets generated is consumed either for offering loans on solar or to upgrade electricity generation. Usage of fuel can be lower down by introducing policy for providing fuel in limited quantity quota system to individuals & encouraging private public partnership for mass public transport. Lekin yeh government machinery ko apni dehari luganay seh fursat milay toh soochay na...
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Abid Fattani May 30, 2022 09:46am
Instead of going to reduce working days, they should plan to utilize alternate source of energy OR follow the law of nature and restrict business timing to sunset.
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Zain ul hassan May 30, 2022 10:43am
Three day holiday is best option
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Kashif Malik May 30, 2022 10:53am
SBP should explore a 4th option. That is keep 5 days working week with 50% work force from office while rest working from home. Besides that government should review the perks of high rank officials/parliment members. For example, restricting fuel limits to maximum of 250 litres per month.
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ایاز الدین May 30, 2022 11:38am
ہم بحیثیت قوم مجموعی طور پر کاہل اور کام چور قوم ہیں اس قسم کی آراء مشکل میں ڈال دیں گی ویسٹ میں ہفتے میں 3 چھٹیوں کا کب سے سلسلہ چل رہا ہے۔اس کے بجائے 2 دن پیٹرول پمپ بند کر دیں گڈز ٹرانسپورٹ اور پبلک ٹرانسپورٹ کو پیٹرول دیا جا سکتا ہے۔
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ایاز الدین May 30, 2022 11:40am
ہم ب
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Hasan May 30, 2022 02:20pm
مسلہ یہ نہیں کہ پیٹرول مہنگا ہوگیا مسلہ یہ ہے کہ جن لوگوں کو مہنگی لگژری گاڑی, ہیلی کاپٹرز, جہاز, پیٹرول, بجلی, گیس, رہائش, پلاٹ, ٹیلی فون, انٹرنیٹ, باورچی, ڈرائیور, مالی, اور گارڈز مفت میں دیا جاتا ہے ان سے کس طرح واپس لیا جائے۔ تمام وزراء, بیوروکریٹ اور تمام گریڈ کے مطابق سرکاری ملازمین اس بہتی گنگا میں ہاتھ دھوتے ہیں۔ اگر ملک کا خزانہ خالی ہے اور ملک دیوالیہ ہونے جارہا ہے تو پھر ایسی ایمرجنسی میں تمام سرکاری مراعات روکنے کے لیے فوراً ایک مہم چلانے کی ضرورت ہے۔ یاد رکھیں مہنگاہی صرف اُن کے لیے ہے جو اپنی محنت کی کمائی سے خرید کر استعمال کرتے ہیں۔ اسی طرح اسکول ہسپتال بھی اگر سرکاری استعمال کریں تو پاکستانی کئی بلیک میل مافیاز سے محفوظ ہوجائیں گے۔ یہ کونسا انصاف ہے کہ جو قوت خرید رکھتا ہے اُسے ہی مفت ملتا ہے اور جو غریب خرید نہیں سکتا اُسی کا خون نچوڑا جارہا ہے۔ یا تو ان کو تنخواہیں نہ دو صرف مراعات دو یہ لاکھوں تنخواہیں بھی لیتے ہیں اور عوام کے ٹیکس پر مفت میں عیاشیاں بھی کرتے ہیں. سب اپنی اپنی اصلاح کریں تو معاشرہ خور بخود صحیح ہو جائے گا انشاءاللہ.
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sayyed zakir ali rizwe May 30, 2022 04:10pm
Pakistan has 'surplus generation', till 2029. Meaning we have 'Less demand'. This imply that capacity charges have to be paid in full to IPPs, even when they are not generating a unit. Has power division and SBP jointly worked over a cost/benefit analysis to know financial impact of reducing demand to conserve import cost Vs. opportunity loss of no/reduced industrialization, 'IPP capacity charges' paid without a unit generated, its affect on circular debt and GDP as a whole? There is none shared publicly, except that approx. $2.5B can be saved annually. But the question is on What Cost? Had we be going un-interrupted, all was geared to purchase cheaper oil/ gas, increase national demand, lower un-used capacity payments, move economy forward from a 6% GDP/growth. But not today. Leadership is all about taking brave decisions OR the nation continue to pay the price
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Numan May 30, 2022 05:38pm
I think government need to increase the petrol price if not than they need to start public transport in big cities as it was done in past. if not than Government need to take strict action on individual traveling in car for example (car capacity is four that mean three people in the car not less three or if bike two people travel same time reduce the fuel consumption and cost effective also if any one does not want he may pay challan a big amount as in 1976 in USA during the Arab Israel war), and there are alot different ways. like office time early in the morning not 9:00 it start from 7:00 am to 1:00 pm.
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Yasmine May 30, 2022 11:18pm
All shops,restaurants ND malls opened in daylight and close before sunset extra light should be off. In this way we should be able to reduce consumption of oil and electricity
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Aslam hayat Jun 01, 2022 11:09pm
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