Don’t burden flood-hit people with more inflation, Bilawal urges IMF

News Desk
Thursday, Feb 09, 2023

KARACHI: Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari Wednesday demanded that world institutions and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) not burden the country’s flood-affected people with inflation.

While addressing a donors conference for Sindh’s flood-stricken population in Karachi, the foreign minister said: “A natural calamity like the floods was doomsday before the doomsday for us.”

More than 1,700 people were killed and 8 million displaced by last year’s flooding, which also destroyed about a million homes and businesses across the country of 220 million people, according to disaster management officials. About 5 million people — mainly in Sindh and Balochistan — are still exposed to floodwater months after monsoon rains and melting glaciers caused the disaster.

“Such a calamity has never occurred in history. One out of every seven Pakistanis was affected by the floods in Sindh,” FM Bilawal said, while he appreciated UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ efforts in this difficult time.

“Their standing crops have been washed away and despite tiresome efforts, they have not 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,” Bilawal said.

The foreign minister said it was the government’s success to get more than what was asked for from global institutions.

“The floods impacted over 30 million people, while crops were destroyed across 0.5 acres of land. There is a need for $1.5 billion to construct homes in Sindh,” Bilawal said.

The PPP chairman also highlighted the support received from global financial institutions, particularly the World Bank, and spoke about the federal finance minister’s ongoing talks with the IMF. “Hopefully, the negotiations with IMF will remain positive. It is IMF’s responsibility to provide protection to the flood victims. We are placing the burden of inflation on the IMF’s insistence and request it to ease the conditions with the nation affected by flood devastation,” the minister said.

Commenting on the relief efforts in the province, Bilawal insisted on targeted relief for flood-affected areas, which should focus on agriculture, energy, and fertilisers. “This will be possible when the IMF’s conditions are relaxed. We have the solution and plans for the challenges and problems being faced,” Bilawal added.

Bilawal also inaugurated the release of funds to construct homes for the affected in the province. Jointly organised by the Sindh government and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the conference discussed the rehabilitation of areas impacted by catastrophic flooding in the province. Initially, these funds will be utilised in Sindh’s eight calamity-hit districts — Larkana, Sukkur, Dadu, Hyderabad, Thatta, Shaheed Benazirabad, Umerkot and Tando Allahyar.

Addressing the summit, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah said around 2.1 million homes were damaged during the devastating floods.

The Sindh administration, meanwhile, has signed an agreement to reconstruct these homes under a public-private partnership. Chief Executive Officer Housing Khalid Shaikh and Sindh Rural Support Programme’s Hadi Bux signed the agreement.