The night economy is resisting orders to close earlier to conserve energy

Peshawar/Lahore: Markets in Pakistan’s major cities have spurned a new government policy to close early as part of an energy-saving program, dealing a blow to the cash-strapped country’s plans to cut energy imports amid an economic crisis.

The government ordered a day earlier that all markets and mall restaurants should close by 8:30 p.m. to save on fuel, imports of which have depleted the country’s foreign exchange reserves, leaving them at levels barely a month’s worth of imported goods covers.

People visit a market in Lahore, Pakistan, where most of their daily necessities are bought at night.

People visit a market in Lahore, Pakistan, where most of their daily necessities are bought at night.Credit:AP

In the country’s largest cities of Lahore, Karachi and Peshawar, almost all major markets and malls stayed open past the cut-off time on Wednesday.

“We strongly oppose this plan,” said Mohammad Ishaq, president of the Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a traders association in the northwest city of Peshawar, adding that companies already facing security problems and energy shortages would resist attempts to enforce it.

“This policy will kill me and my business, which starts after 8 p.m. when children come to my store with their parents,” said Muhammad Raza, a toy store owner in the eastern city of Lahore.

Markets in major cities traditionally stay open late, in most cases until 11pm, as shoppers usually disembark in the evening.

A shopping center in Peshawar, Pakistan, on Wednesday. Authorities have ordered malls and markets to close by 8:30 p.m., about three hours earlier than usual.

A shopping center in Peshawar, Pakistan, on Wednesday. Authorities have ordered malls and markets to close by 8:30 p.m., about three hours earlier than usual.Credit:AP

In Karachi, the country’s trading hub, Pakistan Traders Association President Mohammad Ajmal Baloch said local traders were reluctant to reduce business hours.

Defense Minister Khawaja Asif said the measures to shut down markets, including restaurants, aimed to save the cash-strapped country about 62 billion Pakistani rupees ($402 million). He said the energy-saving plan also included bans on the production of energy-inefficient lightbulbs and fans from February and July respectively.

https://www.smh.com.au/world/asia/pakistan-s-night-economy-defies-orders-to-shut-early-to-save-energy-20230105-p5caku.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_world The night economy is resisting orders to close earlier to conserve energy

Callan Tansill

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