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ISLAMABAD: All Pakistan Anjuman-e-Tajran (APAT) on Wednesday conveyed to the Minister for Defence Khawaja Muhammad Asif that the government should not close shops at 8pm, but short-time load shedding is acceptable keeping in view the current economic situation of the country.

The Defence Minister was having a consultative meeting held with representatives of the All Pakistan Anjuman-e-Tajran (APAT) flanked by Federal Minister for Energy Khurram Dastgir Khan, Federal Minister for Housing and Works, Maulana Abdul Wasay, Minister for State for Petroleum, Musadik Malik, Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication, Syed Amin Ul Haq, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs, Ayaz Sadiq and Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Marriyum Aurangzeb.

Traders raised the question that if any of the provinces are not ready to implement the federation’s directives on shops closure, how the government would tackle this situation?, traders informed the Minister for Defence Khawaja Asif.

“We have categorically informed the Minister that the closure of shops is not acceptable at any cost”, a participant of the meeting told Business Recorder.

A uniform national energy austerity drive is needed to be implemented across all provinces, traders added.

Minister for Defence Khawaja Muhammad Asif informed that the government would decide market and business closure timings in consensus with traders’ associations and stakeholders for effective implementation of the national energy austerity drive.

Chairman APAT, Muhammad Naeem Mir, President APAT, Ajmal Baloch, and others also participated in the meeting and presented their recommendations and suggestions on the government’s proposal to implement closure timings of markets at 8 pm, dining halls at 10 pm and restaurants at 10 pm.

The minister briefed the participants on the government’s vision to ensure energy conservation through less consumption in the commercial sector. The initiative is also intended to relieve the burden on the country’s foreign reserves that are being doled out every year for the import of oil and gas to ensure power production, he added.

The import bill of fossil fuels for power production comprised of 20 percent of the total imports expenditure of $80 billion a year that it could not afford further due to the growing burden on the economic resources of the country, Khawaja Asif said. “The country is blessed with 365 days a year with full shining sun that can be well utilized to generate energy which is cost-effective and eco-friendly,” he added.

The briefing on the government’s national energy austerity drive was presented by Secretary Power Division, Rashid Mahmood Langrial which was followed by an extensive discussion with the traders’ representatives present at the forum.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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