The federal cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in its meeting on Wednesday, decided on a number of power conservation measures, the foremost being the long-touted plan of a two-day weekly holiday. As the provinces had not been taken on board, the meeting only decided to shut federal offices, and referred the question of closure of provincial offices to a meeting of the Council of Common Interests. The cabinet also decided on the closure of marriage halls by 10pm, of businesses after sunset, conversion of billboards and streetlights into LEDs and encouraging the use of energy savers instead of light bulbs. The measures adopted have all been apparently designed to work against the revival of the economy, which is supposed to be the purpose of the conservation measures. Of particular concern is the five-day week, something which proponents have long tried to push through and would now like to have as a conservation measure. It is destined, like daylight saving, to prove a bad idea, because it means the closure of trade and industry for an extra day a week at a time when export industries should be running. It was worth noting that the cabinet only took action after the whole country erupted in protests following the increase in loadshedding, and while conservation measures may well be needed, the root cause, the circular debt problem, has been left untouched. Panic-stricken injections of cash do not solve the problem, though they might buy some time for a solution, because the problem will only recur. Also, there does not seem to have been enough emphasis on ending electricity theft, and making consumers pay for what they use. Conservation measures will be defeated in the long run by the kind of fiscal irresponsibility that led to the crisis in the first place. The federal government is not showing its seriousness in addressing the problem, and it should not think it is over just because people are no longer protesting. Instead, it should work harder to make consumers pay up, starting with itself. Instead of forcing the five-day holiday on the provinces, it could make them pay their arrears too. There should be a renewed exploration of sources of renewable energy, like solar and wind power, while beneficial hydel projects, like the Kalabagh Dam, should be started at once. After all, if there is enough generation, conservation will not be needed.