The federal and provincial governments have unanimously decided to shut markets by 8pm across the country as part of the efforts to conserve energy, Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal said on Tuesday.
He said this while addressing the media following the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting held in Islamabad with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in chair.
The federal minister said chief ministers of three provinces — Sindh, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa — participated in the huddle while the planning minister of Balochistan represented the provincial government.
This initiative could save around $1 billion annually, he added.
He said representatives of provincial governments were present in the NEC meeting and they had been advised to get it implemented to save precious resources.
Iqbal said energy had become a big challenge for Pakistan and the government would reduce dependence on fossil fuels and imported oil, and give due focus on energy conservation.
Likewise, the minister said government would promote green energy including solar, hydel and wind and no new imported fuel–based project would be introduced.
Earlier in January this year, the federal government had approved a new energy conservation plan under which markets/malls were supposed to be closed by 8:30pm, while it also banned the usage of inefficient appliances to save around Rs62 billion annually.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had directed the authorities concerned to cut the usage of electricity by all departments of the federal government by 30%.
The coalition government had claimed that measures approved by the cabinet aim to save the cash-strapped country about Rs62 billion ($273.4 million) and help reduce the energy import bill.
However, the measures were never fully implemented across the country.