ISLAMABAD - Power as well as fuel consumption could increase after the newly-elected Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif announced one-day weekly off at the federal level that would enhance the demand of electricity whereas shortfall is already on a rise in the country.

Shehbaz Sharif took oath as Prime Minister on Monday and soon after assuming office, declared a six-day working week. The employees have also been directed to attend offices at 8am instead of 10am. In the past, the proposals of a six-day working week were opposed by the Energy Division with observations of an increase in oil and utility bills for the government sector. Now, the federal government has announced to open all public offices, schools, colleges, universities and private banks on Saturdays.

However, background discussions with the officials of different ministries have revealed that decision of six working days in a week could enhance the demand of electricity whereas shortfall is already on a rise. The masses are already facing power outages across the country. Prime Minister was informed that 27 power plants having a combined generation capacity of more than 7,000 megawatts are out of order due to technical problems or fuel shortages at a time when citizens are faced with power outages across the country. Meanwhile, the decision of six working days in a week could further increase electricity demand.

“Yes, the decision will enhance the electricity demand, as all public institutions, government schools and colleges and even private banks will remain open on Saturday,” said a senior official of the ministry of finance wishing not to be named. He further said that demand of electricity would further go due to the increase in temperature so the current decision of six working days in a week could lead to electricity shortfall. Meanwhile, some officials believed that demand of not only electricity but demand of fuel would also go up at the time when petrol prices are much higher in the country. Keeping in view the prices in international market, it is expected that oil prices would further increase in the country.

“Normally people do not come on road on Saturday when it was off day. Now, we will have to come to offices and dropping kids to schools, which will increase the fuel consumption,” another official said. He further said that government could have increased office timings by one hour per day in five working days in a week, which could save electricity as well as fuel.

The decision of reducing working week duration to 5 days was announced in 2010-11 in Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) government in order to tackle the power crisis in the country. The country was facing worst energy crisis on that time. The government of that time was of the opinion that power consumption can be reduced by switching to a 5-day week. It was estimated that 5 working days in a week and some other measures could save electricity of around 1000 megawatts to 1500 megawatts.

Later, the PTI government had also tried to restore six working days in a week. However, it could not take the decision on it. During the PTI’s tenure, the proposal had been put forth by the Establishment Division for the consideration and approval of the Cabinet headed by then Prime Minister Imran Khan. The idea was that the working week should be of 6 days as there is neither any study nor any evidence on how shifting the week to 5 days impacted the productivity of employees and power consumption in government departments. However, it was not approved by then federal cabinet. Now, the incumbent government has decided to observe six working days in a week.