UPDATE 1-Don't wear socks, hot Pakistanis told amid power crisis

Mon May 20, 2013 4:17pm IST

(Recasts)

ISLAMABAD May 20 (Reuters) - Pakistan has told civil servants not to wear socks as the country turns off air-conditioners amid a chronic power crisis and soaring temperatures.

The government has turned off all air-conditioning in its offices as the country endures blackouts of up to 20 hours a day in some places.

"There shall be no more use of air-conditioners in public offices till such time that substantial improvement in the energy situation takes place," a cabinet directive said.

As part of a new dress code, moccasins or sandals must be worn without socks.

The power shortages have sparked violent protests and crippled key industries, costing hundreds of thousands of jobs in a country already beset by high unemployment, a failing economy, widespread poverty and a Taliban insurgency.

The "load-shedding" means many families cannot pump water, let alone run air-conditioners, with a disastrous knock-on effect on health and domestic life.

Frustration over the power cuts contributed to the former ruling party's poor showing in a May 11 general election.

Two ministers in charge of water and power explained what can be done to end power cuts in parts of the country enduring temperatures of 40 degrees Celsius and above - absolutely nothing, it seems, except raise prices.

Ministers Musadiq Malik and Sohail Wajahat Siddiqui "expressed their inability to overcome the crisis", the Daily Times quoted them as telling a news conference in Lahore, where the temperature was 40 C (104 degrees Fahrenheit) on Monday.

"They have termed financial constraints as a major, and incompetence as a minor, hurdle in resolving the issue," the newspaper said.

"Presenting the realistic picture, the ministers announced that they were going to increase the price of electricity and gas for all sectors."

They gave no details but said the problem would get worse before it gets better.

About two-thirds of Pakistan's energy is generated by oil and gas and there are widespread gas shortages, with cars run by CNG, compressed natural gas, queuing up for hours overnight to fill their tanks. (Reporting by Nick Macfie; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Politics

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Fund Raising

Fund Raising

Flipkart raises $700 million in fresh funding.   Full Article 

Reforms Push

Reforms Push

Modi may order insurance, coal reforms if vote delayed - officials.  Full Article 

Reuters Exclusive

Reuters Exclusive

India looks to sway Americans with nuclear power insurance plan  Full Article 

To Boost Growth

To Boost Growth

Crank up public spending to revive growth - chief economic adviser.   Full Article 

Bold Steps

Bold Steps

SpiceJet rescue plan marks bold bet on Indian aviation recovery.   Full Article 

New Airline

New Airline

Tata, Singapore Air venture Vistara to take off on Jan 9.  Full Article 

Online Sales

Online Sales

Knock knock. Who's there? Amazon's best-selling holiday author.  Full Article 

Hacking Attack

Hacking Attack

N.Korea says did not hack Sony, wants joint probe with U.S.  Full Article 

Reuters Poll

Reuters Poll

BSE Sensex to hit 32,980 by December 2015  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage