ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet has approved two days holiday a week for those industries completely dependent on electricity and gas, Express 24/7 reported Wednesday.
The decision was taken by the federal cabinet in response to the ongoing, crippling countrywide power crisis.
The content of the decision will later be announced by the Federal Information and Broadcasting Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan in a press conference.
The proposal for this move will be forwarded to Council of Common Interest (CCI) for a final approval. The CCI's approval is necessary to take the Punjab on board, as a large number of industrialists who will be affected by the two-day weekend belong to the province.
Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif will attend the CCI session where the final decision will be taken.
Prime Minister House sources said that Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani is due to summon a session of the CCI in a couple of days in which the premier will invite members of the CCI to discuss implementing the decision. However, the Karachi business community has already rejected the decision.
The decision will be implemented from October 15 and will be applicable to banks also.
Earlier, protesting against the government’s inaction over the ongoing power crisis, parliamentarians, led by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), staged a protest and sit-in on Thursday in front of the presidency.
Demonstrations in different parts of the country were also held in order to protest against prolonged load shedding across the country.
Earlier in May, the government had decided to table an energy saving plan comprising two holidays a week, closure of shops at 8 pm, advancing clocks by one hour and turning off street lights at night.
Opposition to the decision
Express 24 /7 reported that the provincial governments of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab have showed reluctance towards implementation of the decision taken by the federal cabinet about the two-day weekend.
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said that his government was not consulted regarding the implementation of the decision and hence, the province is not bound to following the decision.
Law Minister Rana Sanaullah also said that the Punjab government does not support the decision and the provincial government has already given its opinion in this regard.
Awami National Party (ANP) leader Haji Adeel stated that two holidays will not help in the conservation of energy and the markets should remain open till 10pm, while Mian Iftikhar Hussain from ANP said that the K-P government will endorse the CCI decision.
Meanwhile President of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KPCCI) Afan Aziz also criticised the decision of a two-day weekend.
He said the decision will not help in curbing the energy crisis and will impact the business community and day to day trading activities quite severely, adding that a two-day weekend had been practiced earlier as well to conserve energy, which had affected business.
Aziz questioned the effectiveness of this decision saying that if it is implemented then there shouldn’t be load shedding during the weekend, when presumably there is excess electricity, but since it cannot be stored, the policy fails to meet its purpose.