ISLAMABAD: The international community will barely send a quarter of its aid through the government and that too mainly in the shape of goods instead of cash, as the country continues to be haunted by an “image deficit”.
Official documents reveal that bilateral and multilateral donors have so far pledged $315 million or 68.5 per cent of the appeal made by the United Nations for rescue and relief of over six million flood victims during the first 90 days.
Only $81.6 million goods or cash will come through government channels, documents revealed. Out of this, cash is less than $18 million or 5.7 per cent of the pledges. The remaining amount will also not be given to the government and be provided in the shape of tents, generators, medicines, blankets and food.
Interestingly, out of the $18 million cash promised, there is a $10 million soft loan from the Islamic Development Bank based in Saudi Arabia.
Countries like China and Saudi Arabia, Pakistan’s so-called time-tested friends, have even preferred to give goods instead of cash. China pledged to provide goods worth $9 million through the National Disaster Management Authority. Saudi Arabia also delivered relief goods worth $44 million through the government.
For its part, Turkey dared to provide $5 million through the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund. Malaysia also agreed to give $1 million through the PM Fund, while Japan committed to provide some cash in addition to relief goods.
The Japanese government’s total commitments amount to over $13 million.
“The situation is so grave that the government has decided to give a special presentation on relief efforts by donor agencies to President Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday,” said a senior official of the Finance Ministry on condition of anonymity.
The United Nations has been struggling to obtain $460 million to provide emergency assistance to over six million out of the 20 million flood-affected people.
The UN spokesperson for the office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Maurizio Giuliano, has warned of a “second wave of death” unless more donors come out to provide funds.
Of the $315 million pledged, a major chunk of $216.6 million will be distributed through the United Nations and its agencies and international non-governmental organisations (INGOs).
The donors have committed to provide $176.8 million cash ($18 million through government channels) and $112 million worth of goods, of which relief goods worth $64.3 million will be sent through the government.
Two former army generals, who have worked with the National Disaster Management Authority and the Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority, said that the money spent on relief and reconstruction through donors and INGOs should be audited as well. They were of the view that their accounts should be presented before the Public Accounts Committee to explain overheads.
Both generals said that the accounts of the aid spent on rehabilitation of the earthquake affected areas were never presented for an audit. They said there was a legal lacuna (gap) in auditing the NGO’s accounts that needs to be addressed.
So far, Australia has pledged to provide $9 million, Belgium has committed $0.64 million and Brazil $0.5 million through UN agencies.
Meanwhile, Canada has pledged $2 million through the World Food Programme, Denmark $11 million through NGOs, Egypt has delivered $0.25 million worth of goods, the EU $25.6 million through the UN and NGOs, Finland $1.5 million and France $1.3 million through the UN and French agencies. Morocco has given $2 million cash.
Indonesia has provided $ one million, Italy delivered $3.2 million and Japan $3.2 million worth of goods. Kuwait has given $5 million, Norway $5 million and Sweden $4.5 million through UN agencies.
The UK has committed to provide $32 million through the UN and the US has pledged $76 million mainly through the USAID.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 18th, 2010.
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