Govt Considers 4-Day Work-Week to Save Fuel

In the face of rising oil consumption and import bills as a result of higher international prices, the government is investigating the possibility of fuel conservation through fewer working days per week. It hopes to save up to $2.7 billion in annual foreign exchange.

The estimates are based on three different scenarios prepared by the State Bank of Pakistan for foreign exchange savings ranging from $1.5 billion to $2.7 billion.

Pakistan’s total oil imports have surpassed $17 billion in the first ten months of the current fiscal year (FY22), representing a massive 96 percent increase over the same period last fiscal year. This includes $8.5 billion in petroleum product imports and $4.2 billion in petroleum crude imports, representing a 121 percent and 75 percent increase, respectively.

According to a senior government official, the relevant authorities — power and petroleum divisions — have been advised to come up with their estimates, including electricity conservation, in order to approach the matter holistically, with a cost-benefit analysis of various sectors before reaching a conclusion.

According to these estimates, an additional POL consumption for one more working day per week would cost the country $642 million in terms of commuting, not including freight and transportation. Reduced consumption with one fewer working day per week, on the other hand, results in an annual savings of approximately $2.1 billion. All savings figures are based on a net reduction in oil imports, but petroleum product subsidies could be reduced by Rs3.5 billion per day.

Officials said the Power Division advised the new government shortly after it took office to reduce working days, limit commercial activities to daylight hours, and launch a national energy conservation drive across all energy consumption sectors, saving more than 5000MW of electricity.

Instead, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif chose to increase working days from five to six per week, which added an additional burden in the form of increased electricity and POL consumption.

An official said that a gap of 3000-3500MW could be easily parked in low revenue, high loss areas with manageable public outcry, adding that the power shortfall currently hovers between 5000 and 7000MW, resulting in load shedding of up to three hours in major urban centers.

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