Bilawal urges IMF, govt not to forget plight of flood-hit people amid loan talks

Published February 8, 2023
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari addresses a conference in Karachi on Wednesday. — DawnNewsTV
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari addresses a conference in Karachi on Wednesday. — DawnNewsTV

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Wednesday urged the federal government and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) — currently in the midst of negotiations to revive a stalled lifeline — to consider the plight of the flood affectees and ensure they are “protected” from economic difficulties.

Pakistan is currently in talks with an IMF delegation to release much-needed money under a stalled bailout programme. A successful outcome with the IMF would also help to release money from other platforms that are looking for a green-light from the lender.

Unveiling a post-flood rebuilding project in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Sindh today, the minister urged the government and the international lender to provide “relief” to flood-hit people similar to the one given countrywide during the pandemic days in 2020.

He stressed that it was also the responsibility of international organisations including the IMF “to suggest reforms for our betterment but flood affectees must also be provided protection so that they can come out of the current situation”.

The foreign minister said the country faced unprecedented damage in the wake of floods as 33 million people were affected while five million acres of standing crops were destroyed.

“Agriculture is the backbone of our economy but this flood broke our back,” he said while referring to the impact of the calamity.

He said Pakistan was thankful to the countries who pledged “more than our expectations” at the Geneva conference while the United Nations secretary general deserved equal accolades for his support in this regard.

“Dignitaries including the UN officials or our prime ministers had a foremost demand of rebuilding of homes whenever they visited the flood-hit areas,” he recalled, adding the process was difficult and will take time “but intend to build homes from scratch”.

He said the provincial government also had plans to give ownership rights to the occupants of reconstructed houses in a bid to empower them economically.

“We promise that in two to three years, we will complete this whole process and we will reach people to rebuild their homes, not only for repair purposes but also give ownership rights,” he underlined.

The minister said he would request the federal government to implement a similar model in other flood-hit provinces for the earliest recovery.

According to Radio Pakistan, the funds for the rebuilding of damaged houses will be initially utilised in eight flood-affected districts of the province which are Larkana, Sukkur, Dadu, Hyderabad, Thatta, Shaheed Benazirabad, Umerkot and Tando Allahyar.

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