ISLAMABAD: Authorities on Wednesday ordered shopping malls and markets to close at 8:30 p.m. as part of a new energy-saving plan to facilitate The economic crisis in Pakistan, officials said. The move comes amid talks with the International Monetary Fund.
On Tuesday, Pakistani Defense Minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif and Energy Minister Ghultam Dastghir said the government had decided to close facilities early under the new cabinet-approved energy saving plan. Authorities also ordered wedding halls and restaurants to close at 10 p.m.
The government expects these measures to save energy and reduce the cost of imported oil, on which Pakistan spends $3 billion a year. In Pakistan, most electricity is generated using imported oil.
So far, reactions from representatives of malls, restaurants and shop owners have been mixed and want the government to overturn the decision.
Many Pakistanis shop and dine in restaurants until midnight.
Business leaders say the new measures will negatively impact their establishments, which have suffered during the pandemic under government-mandated lockdowns to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Since 2021, the coronavirus has caused 36,000 deaths out of 1.5 million cases in Pakistan.
Pakistan is currently in talks with the IMF to ease some conditions of its $6 billion bailout package, which the government says will cause inflation to rise further.
The fund released the last crucial tranche of $1.1 billion to cash-strapped Pakistan in August. Since then, talks between the two sides have stalled.
Pakistan says last summer’s devastating floods caused up to $40 billion in damage to the country’s economy, making it difficult for the government to comply with some of the IMF’s conditions, including increased gas and electricity prices and new taxes.

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