A vendor stands in his kids toys shop in a market in Karachi on February 15, 2023. — Online

To deal with the ongoing energy crisis, Karachi Commissioner Muhammad Iqbal Memon Saturday issued directives to the city’s deputy commissioners (DCs) to ensure the closure of shopping malls and markets at 8:30pm.

The instructions were issued by the commissioner of the metropolis in a letter written to the DCs after receiving directives from the federal government.

A new order was, therefore, issued by him seeking all markets and malls be shut down on the aforementioned timing.

Karachi commissioner has directed the DCs to ensure instructions regarding the closure of wedding halls and restaurants at 10pm were being implemented. He also told them to implement Islamabad’s orders regarding the energy crisis.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif also unveiled a host of austerity measures to save Rs200 billion — aimed at keeping the country afloat as the nation buckles up to meet the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) conditions.

In a presser held to unveil the measures, as a follow-up to the government’s energy conservation plan announced earlier this year, the prime minister warned that the centre and provinces will cut the power supply of malls and markets if they don’t shut down by 8:30pm.

The federal government, in January, approved a new energy conservation plan under which markets/malls were asked to be closed by 8:30pm, while it also banned the usage of inefficient appliances that would save the country around Rs62 billion annually.

Given the worsening economic conditions of the country, Islamabad has been attempting to implement measures cutting down expenses across different sectors.

The government’s negotiations with the IMF continue since early February over policy framework issues as Pakistan hopes to sign a staff-level agreement that will pave the way for more inflows from other bilateral and multilateral lenders.

Once the programme is revived, the lender will disburse a tranche of more than $1 billion from the $6.5 billion bailout facility signed in 2019.

The South Asian country’s economy has been in turmoil and desperately needs external financing, with its foreign exchange reserves around $3 billion, barely enough for a month’s worth of imports.

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