Pakistan’s energy crisis: markets and restaurants close early as economy remains fragile amid IMF bailout stalemate

Islamabad/New Delhi

Pakistan’s economic woes show no signs of easing in 2023.

The South Asian nation announced a new energy conservation plan on Tuesday as its fragile economy continues to struggle with multiple challenges. The government has ordered all markets to close at 8:30 p.m. and restaurants at 10 p.m., according to a Tweeter by his ruling party. These measures will help the country save 62 billion Pakistani rupees ($274 million), the post added.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif also ordered all federal departments to reduce their energy consumption by 30%. The country is in the midst of a severe energy crisis and is heavily dependent on fuel imports.

The announcement comes at a time when Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves have fallen to alarming levels. As of December, Pakistan’s total liquid foreign exchange reserves stood at $11.7 billion, half the amount it held at the start of last year, according to the central bank.

The country’s finances are also suffering due to disputes with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) over a review process, which delayed the release of a $1.1 billion bailout tranche.

“Survival without the IMF is not an option given the scale of external financing needs,” analysts at Arif Habib, a Karachi-based research firm, wrote in a recent report.

Pakistan also tried several measures to save energy last year, including reducing its working week.

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