Pakistani Province Limits Shopping Hours, Other Events Amid 'Energy Emergency' Over Forex Shortages
© AP Photo / Anjum NaveedPakistan's opposition leader Shahbaz Sharif smiles during a press conference, in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, March 30, 2022. Lawmakers appeared poised to push Prime Minister Imran Khan out of power in an upcoming no-confidence vote, after a small but key coalition partner abandoned him and joined the opposition. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)
© AP Photo / Anjum Naveed
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif admitted a lack of funds curbing the oil and gas supply, resulting in a significant fall in power production across the country. Major metro cities, such as Karachi and Lahore, are experiencing load-shedding for up to 15 hours.
Sindh Province, home to Pakistan’s financial capital, has imposed significant restrictions on shopping hours and wedding events for a month to conserve the electricity during the “energy crisis emergency.”
"All the markets, shops, and shopping malls shall be closed by 9pm except medical stores, pharmacies, hospitals, petrol pumps, bakeries, and milk shops," a government notification read.
The government warns people of swift penal action if anyone violates the new rules, including new schedules for marriage events and eateries.
The notification stated that the order would remain in effect from 5 p.m. on 17 June to 16 July.
The government anticipates serious long-term and multi-sectoral impacts on the lives of the general public if they do not support authorities in curbing the increasing shortfall between energy generation and utilization.
Pakistan's federal government has already cut the six-day workweek to five days in order to reduce the outages that crippled economic activities across the country.
More than two dozen power plants are not operating due to LNG, furnace oil, and coal shortages, among others, resulting in over a 6,000 MW gap in power demand and supply.
The government failed to ensure an uninterrupted supply of oil and gas as it has only around $10 billion in foreign exchange reserves, enough to pay for less than two months of imports.
Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif blamed Imran Khan, ousted from power in April through a no-confidence motion, for the present economic crisis by signing "the worst ever" Extended Fund Facility with IMF in July 2019.
The first tranche of the $6 billion deal was received in 2020, but the rest of the amount stuck after the Imran Khan government refused to agree on IMF conditions, including bank reforms and fuel price hikes, among other measures.