By Asim Yasin
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani Wednesday informed the cabinet that he had summoned a meeting of the Council of Common Interest (CCI) on Friday to evolve a consensus plan for relief and rehabilitation of the flood effected people.
“I had summoned the meeting to finalise a national strategy on rehabilitation of the flood affected people. A meeting of the Council of Common Interest has been convened so as to take collective decisions in consultation with the provinces on ways and means to rehabilitate the flood affectees,” the prime minister told the cabinet in his opening remarks. A detailed briefing was given to the cabinet in an initial report about the impact on national economy caused by the devastating floods.
The prime minister spoke about the initial damage assessment and informed the cabinet that a comprehensive plan has been chalked out for relief and rehabilitation of the flood affected people.
He said the devastating floods have inflicted losses on different sectors of the economy to the tune of $43 billion and the government will mobilise all internal and external resources for reconstruction of the affected areas.
The prime minister said under the plan, the relief operation which earlier was to continue up to 31st of October is now likely to prolong up to six months. Early recovery process will be completed by 30th December by the government in cooperation with other stakeholders.
Prime Minister Gilani said the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank will conduct damage and need assessment survey by the 30th of this month.
He said the government would undertake resource mobilization plan which will continue till the culmination of relief and reconstruction process. He said the Economic Affairs Division would also organise a donors conference in late October or November.
As per the initial damage assessments of UN agencies and NDMA an estimated crop area of 1.38 million acres has been completely washed away. Over 1.2 million homes have been destroyed, rendering over 7.5 million people displaced. The floods have resulted in the largest number migration since partition.
Briefing the cabinet, the prime minister said the country has suffered Rs350 to Rs500 billion or $4-6 billion worth of damage to infrastructure, livestock and crops.
He said approximately $200 million would be required for recovery/relief efforts whereas repair cost of key damaged infrastructure could exceed $1 billion. Over 1,645 people have lost their lives while 2,479 injured to-date.
Prime Minister Gilani told the cabinet that about 1,000 bridges and over 4,000KM long roads have been damaged, re-construction of which would cost Rs8 to 9 billion.
He said 1/5th of the irrigation infrastructure, livestock and crops have been destroyed. Pepco has initially estimated an accumulated loss of Rs4 billion to its installations.
In most of the areas grid stations, transformers and transmission lines have been damaged. “The Wapda and Pepco cumulative losses exceed Rs13 billion. The actual figures may be higher once the physical survey is carried out,” he added. The prime minister said out of 968 health facilities assessed, over 517 have been damaged. 10,685 schools are damaged; federalised roads worth Rs6 billion and railways worth Rs2.9 billion are damaged as well.
He said the floods have inflicted damage on the economy which may by some estimates reach $43 billion. “While affecting 30 percent of all agriculture land and more than 10% population of the country, crop destruction, livestock deaths, damaged homes and losses in terms of infrastructure i.e. roads, bridges, energy, irrigation and social structures are massive,” he added.
The prime minister said Pakistan’s economy grew by 4.1% during the last year and was expected to grow 4.5% during the current financial year.
He said the damage caused by the floods would bring down the real GDP growth to 2.5% for FY-2011. “This economic loss will translate into massive job losses and incomes of thousands of families. Consequently, it may have serious social implications.”
Overall performance of agriculture, he said, consequently, will be much lower this year and the year ahead. “This loss will have a snowball effect on manufacturing, services and export sectors. Most families face a real risk of income and employment losses. Food security of the country is also under threat,” he added.
He said the devastation is likely to affect revenue collection and increase expenditures, which will widen the budget deficit.
It will also hit textile and sugar sector, which will in turn affect the balance of payments and external resource stability.
He said manufacturing may also fall far below the target level of 5.6%. Services sector (including wholesale and retail trade) constituting more than 50% of GDP, is dependent on agriculture, manufacturing, imports, exports and government’s current expenditure.
The prime minister said inflation target of 9.5% for FY-2011 will be missed and it is apprehended that it may hit the range of 15-20%.
He said it is indeed a time for reflection, as it is a pensive moment in our history.
He said it is also a time for action, above all a time for sharing! We have to realise the pain of our brothers and sisters and sacrifice to relieve their pain. Mere words will not heal as it is a time for collective sacrifice, both at the national and individual level.
The prime minister said the government has been able to collect Rs2 billion in the PM’s Relief Funds.
Giving the figures of foreign aid, he said a total of US$953.7 million has been pledged by donors out of which US$142.47 million has been received so far. “Our government through NDMA has provided essential drugs and medicines to cover the health needs of 2.5 million people affected by the floods and this includes 200 emergency health kits, 152 cholera kits, 1.8 million water purification tablets, 400,000 blankets, 7,167 tons of food items and 2,00,000 tents. Over 13,49,000 people have been rescued by helicopters and boats by our valiant army personnel. American helicopters have also played a key role in the relief efforts, he added. Different mobile clinics have been set up to provide support to tens of thousands of people affected by the disaster.
The prime minister said 60 flood affected districts in all the four provinces shared disaster surveillance data. WHO through its health partners is providing essential medicines and medical supplies in many of the recent flood affected provinces, which includes emergency health kits, diarrhoea kits, trauma kits worth US$1.5 million. A total of 5,15,696 acute diarrhoea cases, 5,31,660 ARI, 7,04,677 skin diseases and 1,00,970 malaria cases have been reported from all over, for which 38,06,804 medical consultations have been given.
He said so far, GoP provided emergency relief assistance worth Rs2,102 million. Payment of Rs20,000 to each beneficiary shall come to Rs40 billion. The BISP shall be paying, additionally, Rs12,000 per beneficiary over a period of three months.
He assured that the government would also mobilize external and internal resources to meet expenditure on re-construction at least for the next three years.
He reiterated the government’s enduring commitment to relief and rehabilitation efforts. Some work has been done and a lot more needs to be done. Although hope is a pillar that holds up the world, hope alone will not deliver the victims from their suffering. “We must not slacken the pace of relief work. I know that in times of crisis our nation and its people have always risen to the occasion. Together we will rebuild Pakistan, stronger and better than before,” he added.
Meanwhile, Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira while briefing newsmen about the cabinet meeting said that flood caused a loss of $6 billion to the infrastructure of the country as per initial damage assessment report.
One thousand bridges and 4,000KM roads have been damaged in different parts of the country and their reconstruction alone would cost Rs8 to 9 billion, he said.
Seventy-nine districts of the country have been affected by floods including 24 in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 12 in Punjab, 19 in Sindh, 10 in Balochistan and 7 each in AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan.
According to initial estimates of the NDMA prepared in cooperation with the UN agencies, crops over 1.38 million acres of land have been destroyed while 20 million people have been affected and about 7.5 million displaced.
He said the cabinet was informed that the combined losses of Wapda and Pepco amount to Rs13 billion.
Kaira said the cabinet was told that the GDP growth rate would fall to 2.5% in view of widespread damage to agriculture, infrastructure and industry.
Federal and provincial governments, NDMA and other agencies have established 4,196 relief camps including 3,104 in Sindh.
Kaira said when complete data of the affectees is received from all the four provinces, AJI and GB the payment of Rs20,000 to each family would be started.
Kaira said the prime minister asked the provincial governments to control the prices.
Her said flow of water at Kotri stood at 7,91,000 cusecs, Sukkur 5,41,550 cusecs and Guddu 4,81,000 cusecs.
The current peak of very high flood at Kotri would continue for the next few days.
He said scattered rains are likely in some parts of Punjab, upper Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Kashmir and Balochistan from Thursday and the day after.
He said machinery has been moved to Tori Bund for its repair which would be undertaken as soon as the water level recedes.
He said the inflation rate which is currently 9.5 percent could rise but all efforts would be made to keep minimum rates of the consumer goods.
The Cabinet reviewed the status of implementation of cabinet decisions pertaining to sports and states & frontier regions.
The cabinet also reviewed the decisions taken by Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet in its meetings held on 20th & 29th July, 2010.
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