Pakistan needs ‘huge sums of money’, not rescheduling: PM

Published October 20, 2022
<p>Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif meets a delegation of disaster management experts from China on Wednesday. — PID</p>

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif meets a delegation of disaster management experts from China on Wednesday. — PID

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister She­h­baz Sharif has said Pakistan needed billions of dollars for reb­uilding climate-resilient infrastru­cture in the aftermath of floods which left over 33 million people without shelter and inundated southern parts of the country.

“We are not asking for any kind of measure [such as] a rescheduling or a moratorium,” PM Sharif was quoted by the Financial Times. “We are asking for additional funds,” the PM said in his remarks which contradicted his Finance Minister Ishaq Dar’s plan to seek rescheduling of loans. On Oct 15, Mr Dar said Pakistan would seek rescheduling of some $27 billion worth of non-Paris Club debt largely owed to China, but will not pursue haircuts as part of any restructuring.

According to the Financial Times, PM Sharif said Islamabad was not trying to reschedule its external debt, worth about $130bn, but it did need “huge sums of money” for “mega undertakings” such as rebuilding roads, bridges, and other infrastructure.

“There is a gap — and a very serious gap — which is widening by the day between our demands and what we have received,” PM Sharif was quoted as saying.

Shehbaz says CPEC to enter B2B phase; Chinese experts to assist authorities in disaster management

The prime minister said Pakistan had been tapping state coffers to help displaced families and buy provisions such as tents, medicine, food packs and drinkable water and added Pakistan would also “seek additional funding from wherever we can”.

According to the British daily, French president Emmanuel Macron promised to host a donors’ conference to boost Pakistan’s fundraising efforts. Still, no date has been set for the conference so far. PM Sharif said he expected it to take place in Paris in November.

CPEC project

In a meeting to review the progress of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, the premier said it was all set to enter the business-to-business mode as both sides countries have pledged to revive the multi-billion dollars project purportedly stalled during the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government.

PM Sharif said efforts were underway to make the project “more productive” for the two sides by turning into B2B mode. “The government has rejuvenated the multi-billion dollar project that faced hiatus during the previous government,” the premier said.

According to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the meeting chaired by PM Sharif focused on infrastructure projects, particularly Main Line-1 (ML-1), Karachi Circular Railway, and Karakoram Highway. The project related to the production of 10,000-megawatt electricity from solar and wind power also came under discussion.

In a separate meeting with a Chinese delegation led by Emergency Commanding Officer Xu Xianbiao, the premier asked the disaster management experts to sign an accord with Pakistan before their departure as he sought Beijing’s help to make Pakistan self-reliant in disaster management.

The delegation will provide technical assistance to Pakistan on short, medium, and long-term projects in the construction of infrastructure to predict floods and reduce their impact.

The Chinese delegation has formed a working group to cooperate with the relevant Pakistani institutions and authorities and will submit a detailed report to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) on Friday for the rehabilitation of people and infrastructure in the affected areas.

Published in Dawn, October 20th, 2022

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