World Bank, ADB await provincial nod

Provincial governments have held back approval for carrying out a damage assessment survey in the flood-hit areas.

Shahbaz Rana August 10, 2010

ISLAMABAD: Provincial governments have held back approval for carrying out a damage assessment survey in the flood-hit areas, which may delay the rehabilitation process of the 12 million affectees.

An official of the Economic Affairs Division (EAD), the window to deal with the world donors, said that the request to start a damage and needs assessment in the areas hit by the worst ever floods is still pending with the EAD. He said the federal government cannot ask the donors until the chief ministers of the three worst affected provinces and Gilgit Baltistan give their approval.

“Early recovery phase will continue for 45 days and after that the rehabilitation process will begin,” he added. The World Bank has extended a $100,000 grant for starting the survey in addition to $200,000 for boats, said the official.

The federal government has announced to validate the damage assessment by the creditworthy agencies.

“It is just a question of receiving a formal request from Pakistan and the joint teams of the World Bank (WB) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) will immediately start validation of the data provided by the government,” said a senior official of the WB on condition of anonymity.  He said the donors will not go door to door to assess the destruction and would rely on the data provided by government agencies.

According to a consent letter that is yet to be dispatched, the government will request for an immediate survey to assess the losses on accounts of human life, injured persons, property, crops and infrastructure. The ADB and the WB will jointly prepare the broader areas of their working. They will need the institutional support from the government to carry out the survey.  The government held a preliminary meeting with the representatives of 32 countries, which was said to be highly mismanaged. The official said so far the authorities have not indicated their needs in monetary terms and just briefed the donors about the level of devastation.

According to the EAD, the government has received $22.5 million from the UN and international non-governmental organisations, $62.5 million via grants and $10 million loans from the other donors, summing to a total of $95 million.

Earlier the WB and the ADB also carried out a damage and needs assessment for the Malakand Operation, launched to root out terrorists. The study had estimated losses worth $1.8 billion. The joint teams of the WB and the ADB are also carrying out a Post Conflict Damage Need Assessment, a holistic study to know the root causes of Talbanisation in the Malakand division.

Meanwhile, the government on Monday issued a SRO, a notification to amend a law or a particular rule, waiving floods donations for the prime minister and chief ministers’ relief funds from the levy of income tax. Any donation will be treated as tax free money and at the time of payment of annual tax the donors can claim that much part of income as out of tax net.

According to a press release issued by the ministry of
finance, in a meeting held under the chairmanship of Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, it was decided to constitute a coordination committee with the task of contacting prominent international NGOs and 500 top taxpayers in the country to motivate them to come forward and help in the rescue and rehabilitation of flood survivors.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 10th, 2010.


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