Federal cabinet okays restoration of two weekly offs amid energy crisis

Panel formed to deliberate remote-work on Friday

Amid the worsening energy crisis, the federal cabinet has approved the restoration of two-day weekly off at public offices, Federal Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said after a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

The two-day weekend was earlier curt to a single day by the Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. However, the information minister said it has been restored under ‘unprecedented circumstances’.

Aurangzeb said the decision would save Rs386 million in the import bill annually.

The minister, who spoke at a news conference in Islamabad, also said that the government was planning to promote work-from-home to conserve energy, adding that the prime minister has formed a committee to work out a work-from-home mechanism for the public sector.

She said the committee would take into account different factors and present its recommendations to the premier following which he would take the final decision regarding it.

The minister said that the government would consult with the stakeholders on the early closure of markets and announce the final decision after it.

She added that the power shortfall in the country currently stood at 4,600MWs as the electricity was not being generated to full capacity. However, she said the government is taking measures to overcome the problem.

She said that the duration of load-shedding across the country would decrease gradually during the month.

Explaining the plan after phase-wise induction of electricity in the national grid, the minister said the duration of power outages from June 6 to 15 would be 3.5 hours a day while it would drop to three hours a day from June 16 to June 24.

Aurangzeb claimed that it would come down to only two hours a day by the end of the month.

Austerity measures

The information minister said a ban has been placed on foreign visits of government officials other than those ‘deemed important’ while the cabinet members would not be allowed to avail medical treatment abroad.

The federal cabinet also placed a ban on the purchase of new vehicles by the government.

Aurangzeb said physical meetings of government officials would be shifted to virtual meetings while all public offices have been prohibited to host lunch, dinner, or hi-tea parties.

Cabinet meeting

Earlier, PM Shehbaz chaired a meeting of the federal cabinet in Islamabad which deliberated on the recommendations compiled by the Prime Minister Working Group for saving electricity.

An eight-point formula for saving electricity amid a worsening power crisis in the country was presented before the cabinet.

One of the points focused on five working days in a week for the conservation of electricity. Apart from this, a single-day remote work option in public and private offices has also been encouraged.

The cabinet has also approved a 40% cut in the fuel allowance given to government officials amid the rise in fuel prices.

The working group has also proposed keeping streetlights on only for a limited period while the closure of markets and marriage halls at 10pm has also been recommended.

The government has also been advised to run an awareness campaign to sensitize people to conserve energy.

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weekly offs

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