Pakistan pleads for flood relief after ‘cameras have gone’
Pakistan is facing an economic crisis with reserves covering one month of imports, a dollar shortage and a delay in its loan program with the International Monetary Fund. Investors are still concerned about the nation’s ability to pay its debt, with long-term dollar bonds continuing to trade at distressed levels despite the payment of a $1-billion bond this month.
“We find ourselves in this incredibly difficult position where we’re trying to manage our macroeconomic indicators with the IMF and provide the imminent relief for the people that is still necessary now in Pakistan, and plan forward for reconstruction and rehabilitation,” Zardari said in an interview with Bloomberg Television in Washington DC. “Unfortunately, the cameras have gone, the attention has disappeared, but there are still floodwaters in many areas of my country.”
Pakistan’s unprecedented floods in the summer killed more than 1,700 people, inundated a third of the nation and cut the nation’s growth by half. The floods have left about $32-billion in damages and losses to the nation’s economy.
The United Nations said the global community hasn’t provided enough funds after the devastating floods in Pakistan and that may lead to the suspension of its food support programme next month. The UN and Pakistan’s joint appeal garnered only about 30% of the $816-million funds requested, according to Julien Harneis, UN resident and humanitarian coordinator in Pakistan. They will seek more funds at a conference in Geneva, Switzerland, scheduled for 9 January.
Pakistan has seen a delay in its latest IMF loan tranche amid prolonged discussions with the global body, which has asked for details on how much the nation will be spending this year for rehabilitation after the devastating floods. The IMF indicated that talks have been productive to revise the macroeconomic outlook after the floods, resident representative in Pakistan Esther Perez Ruiz said in a statement this month.
“The entire unity government agrees that it’s important for us to deal with international financial institutions — we want to see the fundamental reform that’s required for the overall health of our economy,” Zardari said. “But at the moment, our number one priority has to be helping these people who are in extreme, extreme distress in the short, medium and long term.”
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