ISLAMABAD Taking the bull of energy crisis by horns, Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani on Thursday announced a number of measures including five-day working week in government offices, making the business centres, marriage halls and other commercial entities time-bound and slashing the power use in government offices by half with ban on use of air-conditioners before 11am. The Prime Minister also announced end to unscheduled loadshedding and reducing the overall scheduled loadshe-dding by 30 per cent to give immediate relief to the general masses. Giving the broad outlines of the decisions taken at the National Energy Conference, participated by all the four Chief Ministers participated along with their teams of technical experts, the Prime Minister said that it was the elected leadership of the country which came up with a comprehensive and consensus roadmap for the country to overcome the serious power crisis facing the country. Flanked by all the four Chief Ministers and Federal Ministers of Water and Power, Information and Petroleum and Natural Resources, the Prime Minister dispelled the impression that the government was having the capacity to produce power but was not doing it owing to financial constraints and posed a question that how a government could take steps to create troubles for itself. He was all praise for the Chief Ministers for coming up with a prudent proposals for both short-term and long-term measures to manage this crisis and assured the masses that their representatives were putting in their best to come up with a lasting solution to the problems. Starting with the power conservation measures, the Premier said that all the government departments starting with Presidency, Prime Minister House, Governors offices and residence and down to all government departments half of the lights would remain off, however, only authorised officials would use air-conditioners and that too after 11am. He further said that all government departments would observe two holidays a week and this decision would be reviewed by July end. All the markets would be closed after 8.00pm except the pharmacies, bakeries and hotels. The marriage halls would be restricted to hold functions in the evenings not exceeding three hours span. The use of any sort of illumination was banned with the immediate power supply cut-off to neon-sign boards and other commercial displays and switching off every alternate streetlight was approved. The Prime Minister also referred to 10 IPPs in the pipeline and by end of this year another 1300MW would be added to the main supply to ease down the power supply pressure. Regarding the financial measures, Gilani announced settling the circular debt amounting to Rs 116 billion so that the burden on the power generation sector could be eased. He also announced establishment of Energy Development Fund in collaboration with all the four provinces to enhance the power generation and explore other sources of energy including power generation with coal, wind and other sources. To launch the Fund the Prime Minister announced Rs 20 billion cede money. About the medium and long-term measures, he said that a number of projects to generate hydro power projects which would add another 3000MW in the system while with coal another 15000 MW power would enter the system in due course of time. Responding to a question, the Prime Minister said that during his visit to United States the focal point of his negotiations with Senator John Kerry, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other officials was the energy crisis and they had assured all help to Pakistan to overcome the crisis. Adding to the response of the PM, Federal Minister for Water and Power Raja Pervaiz Ashraf informed that some refurbishing of three power projects including Tarbela, Muzaffargarh and Jamshoro was underway with $120 million US assistance. He further said that they had also asked the Friends of Democratic Pakistan to fulfil the pledges they made with Pakistan at the Tokyo Conference. To a question about Kalabagh Dam, thePrime Minister Gilani said that they were not against the project but they wanted to have consensus among all the federating units and for that matter they would not go for any project which would hit the foundation of the Federation. To another question, he said that they had signed an MoU with the Government of Germany to launch solar energy projects here in Pakistan. Later, giving details of the decisions made at the three-day National Energy Conference, Pervaiz Ashraf refuted the perception of the public that the government is deliberately opted for loadshedding. No government wants to earn the wrath of the public, the minister said. Talking about the recommendations of the summit, he informed that government offices would observe five-day working week adding the industries would announce alternative weekly offs till 31 July to meet electricity emergency. All the shops in commercial areas and markets would be closed after 08:00pm except pharmacies and bakeries shops and air-conditioners in government offices wouldnt be utilised before 11:00am and only grade 20 officers and above would be allow to use ACs. The power supply to tube-wells would also remain off during the peak hours (7.00pm to 11.pm). He also informed that electricity to billboards and neon-sign boards would be disconnected and these billboards could be lighted only through solar energy sources and streetlights would also be illuminated by alternative steps and by pursuing these steps approximately 314MW electricity would be conserved. He added that 50 per cent less lights would be used in the government offices including those of the President and the PM. The power quota to Karachi from Pakistan Electric Power Company (PEPCO) has been slashed by 300 MW from 650 MW, he said. KESC would bridge this shortfall by commissioning the Bin Qasim Power Plant with furnace oil. The Federal Minister further pointed out that five rental power plants would start functioning from next month adding that 183mmc additional gas supply to be provided to power sector and up to next year 750MW additional power supply would be included in the national grid. He also acknowledged that unscheduled loadshedding was the biggest challenge for the government and announced that it would be abolished altogether while 33 per cent reduction in the scheduled load shedding would also be made. Responding to a query, he said that the Punjab government has assured to pay its WAPDA dues within next few days, while KESC had also promised to deposit its dues. To a question, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf said that the countrys power needs were increasing at the rate of eight per cent and by 2015 it would be requiring 36000MW while it would be able to produce 114000MW by year 2030. To a question about getting electricity from Iran, the Federal Minister informed that the government of Pakistan had entered into an agreement with the Government of Iran in 2006 to secure 1000MW of power but it would take four to five years to commission this project.