Home > In hour of need, disaster fund not operational

In hour of need, disaster fund not operational

Govt was suppos­ed to give $50 millio­n as its share to make the fund operat­ional




Pakistan Fund for Disaster Management remains non-operational even months after its announcement, highlighting the government’s apathy towards an area that requires more resources and concerted efforts in view of the growing number of calamities.

The blueprint of the Pakistan Fund for Disaster Management was unveiled in January this year at a Donors Conference, held to seek international community’s financial assistance for coping with temporarily displaced persons.

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The fund had been designed to solicit annual contributions from federal and provincial governments and the international donors with the aim to keep cash ready in times of crisis.

Due to delay in making the fund operational, a $500 million Multi-Financing Facility that the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has promised to give to cope with natural disasters would not be immediately available. The ADB and the World Bank have extended loans in the past to meet financial needs arising out of natural disasters.

The increasing occurrence of earthquakes, floods and typhoons over the last 15 years necessitated the need for a sustainable mechanism to provide financing and enhance the country’s resilience to future climate disasters, according to the concept note of the proposed fund.

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None other than Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had welcomed the idea of establishing the fund, saying that it “will provide a viable platform both for the development partners and for the government itself to pool in their resources and respond to all such hazards in a unified and concerted manner in future.”

However, ten months down the line, the fund could not be established and the government and the ADB – the supposed administrator of the fund, are still discussing various modalities, said sources.

The government was supposed to give $50 million as its share to make the fund operational but no money has been allocated due to fiscal constraints, according to officials of Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs.

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The government had initially planned to sign an agreement with the ADB to give it authority to administer the fund. However, later on it decided that a note will be exchanged to avoid legal hindrance. This has also not been done yet, sources said.

Officials said the government would not seek financial assistance from the international community at this stage. However, they admitted that a functional fund would have made it easier to finance the projects related to rehabilitation and reconstruction.

The fund was also aimed at streamlining national and provincial disaster management plans. It would work in areas of disaster risk reduction and management initiatives, design and development of disaster risk financing instruments, rehabilitation and reconstruction of key public infrastructures and livelihood restoration initiatives.

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“The ADB has offered $500 million for capitalisation of the fund, which will be set up very soon,” said Werner Liepach, the country director of the Manila-based lending agency while talking to The Express Tribune. Offering condolence over loss of precious lives, Liepach said his institution was ready to offer any kind of financial assistance to cope with the aftermaths of the earthquake.

The officials hoped that the fund would be made operational anytime early next month. They said Pakistan would be facing more disasters and there was an urgent need to have an institutional arrangement in place.

The ADB is expected to make $100 million available for disaster risk management before end of this fiscal year out of the anticipated $500 million, provided the fund is made functional.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 28th, 2015.

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