Pakistan economic crisis forces malls and markets to close early

Pakistan’s government has ordered shopping centres and markets to close early every day as the country faces an economic crisis.

Defence minister Khawaja Asif says the measures will save the South Asian nation around 62bn Pakistani rupees ($274.3m; £228.9m).

Pakistan generates most of its power using imported fossil fuels.

Global energy prices jumped last year, putting further pressure on the country’s already dwindling finances.

To pay for those energy imports the country needs foreign currency, especially US dollars.

The Pakistan government had $11.7bn of foreign currencies available last month after its reserves fell by about 50% last year.

That is only enough to cover around one month’s worth of all the country’s imports, most of which is energy.

Mr Asif told reporters on Tuesday that shopping malls and markets would have to close by 20:30 local time and government departments had been ordered to reduce their electricity consumption by 30%.

Meanwhile, the production of inefficient electric fans will be banned from the start of July.

“The federal cabinet has immediately approved the Energy Conservation Plan’s enforcement,” the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) party said on Twitter.

The nation of 220 million people has been struggling for years to stabilise its economy.

In 2019 Pakistan secured a $6bn bailout from the International Monetary Fund, while in August last year it received a further $1.1bn.

The government is also negotiating with the IMF over the delayed release of another $1.1bn of bailout money.

Pakistan’s finances were also impacted last year by devastating floods that hit the country.

In October the World Bank estimated that the flooding had caused $40bn of damage to the country.

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