THE Federal Cabinet, which met in Islamabad on Tuesday with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in the chair, approved a viable energy conservation plan with potential to help overcome the ongoing crisis in the sector.
It decided to close markets, shopping areas and restaurants by 8 pm but the move has been linked to consultations with the provinces.
According to the plan, the government would implement a policy of working from home for 20 per cent of government employees based on rotation, which would help save Rs 62 billion.
There can be no two opinions that the country was facing serious energy shortage besides its soaring prices which have become unbearable for almost all categories of consumers.
The sector is also suffering huge losses and the so-called circular debt is increasing despite measures introduced by the successive governments to keep it under check.
It was because of the serious challenges that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is pressurizing the government to jack up prices of both electricity and gas further at a time when consumers are demanding a reduction in their tariff.
The government deserves appreciation that instead of succumbing to the pressure for putting additional burden on the masses, it has come out with a concrete plan to conserve energy and save precious foreign exchange.
The decision to close markets at 08 p.m.offers an opportunity to save energy and use it for industrial, agriculture and domestic sectors.
However, it is quite obvious that the Federal Government can only give a policy direction and the actual implementation remains the sole responsibility of the provincial governments.
We hope that there would be no politics on this sensitive national issue and the proposed consultations would produce positive results.
Similarly, the business community should also shun its non-cooperative attitude and strictly observe the timings as decided by the Federal Cabinet, which is not peculiar to Pakistan as similar energy conservation measures are adopted by most of the countries of the globe.
It is also encouraging that apart from immediate measures, the Government also has plans to focus on policies that could help contribute towards energy conservation on a long-term basis.
Under this plan, electricity fans, bulbs and geysers will also be made conservation-friendly, while streetlights will be switched on alternatively.
The plan to encourage use of electrical bikes, energy conservation devices in geysers and shifting of street lights to solar and LED bulbs also has the potential to save billions.