ISLAMABAD: The provincial governments in Pakistan's Sindh and Punjab provinces as well as the federal capital administration have relaxed 9pm restriction on market timings for a period of one week, as people prepare for Eid Al-Adha that follows weeks of heightened business activity.
The local administrations in Sindh, Punjab and Islamabad last month ordered businesses and markets to close by 9pm in order to conserve energy and subsequently, the much-needed foreign exchange to import it.
Pakistan's information ministry said on June 7 there was currently a gap of 4,600 megawatts between supply and demand, while the country's petroleum import bill soared by over 99 percent to $19.7 billion during the last fiscal year between July 2021 to May 2022, mainly due to rising global fuel prices, according to the official data.
Global fuel price hikes and depreciation of local currency have compounded economic woes of the cash-strapped and energy-deficient South Asian nation of more than 220 million, with inflation hitting a 13-year high of 21.3 percent in June.
However, the governments in Punjab, Sindh and Islamabad announced easing restrictions on market timings a week before Eid Al-Adha as people remain busy buying sacrificial animals as well as clothes and food for the major Islamic festival. In Pakistan, Eid Al-Adha will be celebrated on July 10.
"The government of Sindh is pleased to suspend... restrictions on closing hours of various shops, restaurants and wedding halls," the Sindh home department said in a notification, "with immediate effect to 10.7.2022."
The restrictions will "come back into force from 11.7.2022, instantly," it added.
Similarly, the Punjab government on Saturday allowed markets across the province to remain open past 9pm until Chand Raat (the night Eid).
"Restriction to close markets and bazaars across Punjab ended," the provincial government said in a tweet on Saturday. "The decision will take effect today."
The local administration in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad also followed suit in the "interest" of the people.
"The office order issued... regarding the closure of shops and establishments are hereby suspended till 10-07-2022 in public interest," the Islamabad district magistrate's office said in a notification on Saturday.
The restriction will come back into force with effect from July 11 immediately, it added.