Pakistan is currently facing a severe fuel and energy crisis which has manifested as constant load-shedding across the country. The fuel and energy crisis is a result of the worsening economy, which has caused the fast depletion of country’s forex reserves. In order to conserve fuel and energy, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif during a recent cabinet meeting, constituted a committee to devise an energy conservation plan. The committee consisted of Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Miftah Ismail, Minister for Energy Khurram Dastagir, Petroleum Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, and Minister for Media and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb.
The committee came up with several out of the box ideas, which seem harsh and desperate but might prove effective. The suggestions include doubling toll tax on motorways for single-driver cars, lowering speed limit on motorways and highways, declaring Sunday a vehicle-free day in major cities.
Moreover, reducing the petrol and diesel quota for government officials by 33% has also been recommended by the committee, however, operational vehicles such as ambulances and police mobiles will be exempted from this reduction. Other suggestions include making mandatory biannual tuning and inspection of motor vehicles and allowing vehicles on roads on alternate days based on even or odd registration numbers.
Moreover, the committee has also recommended switching off street lights and early closure of commercials markets and marriage halls. However, cafes, restaurants and pharmacies will be exempted from the recommended early closure of markets. The group also recommended that government officials may work from home one day a week and the private sector should be encouraged to do so.
Prime Minister has not taken any final decision on these suggestions and has decided to discuss these proposals with Chief Ministers of the provinces before taking any final decision. Involving the provincial governments in the decision making process is necessary as some of these recommendations require provincial support to be fully implemented.