KARACHI: Pakistan Peoples Party Chairman and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Wednesday demanded the Centre and the IMF give targeted subsidies for the flood-hit people of Sindh, saying the world should understand that the province was going through a massive humanitarian crisis.
Addressing the ‘Resilient Sindh: From Pledges to Reconstruction’ Conference here at a local hotel, the foreign minister said helping the flood victims in Sindh was not the responsibility of the federal government alone but also of the international organisations, including the IMF, to improve the country’s economy.
“Whatever reforms should be carried out, relief should also be provided to the flood victims,” he said, urging the IMF to soften its conditions for the bailout package so that the flood victims of Pakistan could be protected from the spiral of ‘price hike’.
Reminds federal govt, IMF of mammoth scale of humanitarian crisis confronting province
As a follow-up to the Geneva conference on ‘Climate Resilient Pakistan’, the Sindh government organised a high-powered conference on ‘Resilient Sindh: From Pledges to Reconstruction’ to harness international and local support for the people of its province in the aftermath of the devastating floods.
Mr Bhutto-Zardari said the federal government was negotiating with the IMF for its programme in Islamabad as this ‘Resilient Sindh’ conference was taking place in Karachi.
“Our people have suffered a lot at the hands of heavy floods and unprecedented rains,” as standing crops had been washed away and the farmers might not have been able to prepare their lands for the Rabi crop and may not be able to make their flooded lands fit for the upcoming Kharif crop, the PPP chairman point out.
He urged the IMF to offer the same conditions to the people of Pakistan as it had offered to various other nations during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Talking about the housing project, Mr Bhutto-Zardari directed Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah to award ownership rights to the affected people who had lost their houses in the floods.
“I would urge you (CM) to transfer the ownership rights of the houses in the name of the women of the houses so that they could obtain house purchase or other loans to start their business,” he said, adding this would improve their livelihood and create economic activities.
Sindh suffered 75pc of total losses
As per the post-disaster needs assessment report presented at the conference, Sindh has been at the receiving end of about 61 per cent of the total damages and 75 per cent of the total losses due to the floods.
The conference also included the launch of ‘Sindh People’s Housing for Flood Affectees’ programme for reconstructing 2.1 million houses, which encompassed real-time disbursements to initial beneficiaries. On the occasion, MoUs were also signed with implementing partners including HANDS, TRDP, NRSP, SRSO, and SAFCO.
The prominent participants of the Resilient Sindh conference also included UN resident coordinator, UNDP resident representative, World Bank country director and Asian Development Bank country director.
Addressing the participants, the chief minister said his special gratitude went to the World Bank Group, which had been very forthcoming in its efforts to support the Sindh government and all the development partners and countries that came forward in this hour of need and made commendable pledges during the Geneva moot.
Published in Dawn, February 9th, 2023
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