Sep 26, 2011

Sindh: Pakistani Prime Minister Fails to Boost Funding for Flood Stricken Sindh Province

Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani’s call for donations in his flood relief fund have prompted very little response from the national community as the perception of corruption hinders peoples trust in this regime 

Below is an article published by the News International

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani’s flood relief fund has so far received less thanRs100 million or just over $1 million from all over the world, an amount that could not be described even as peanuts compared to the monumental floods tragedy faced by the people of Sindh.

Most of this already collected money belongs to official departments such as the National Bank of Pakistan as sources revealed that in the whole of Pakistan the money donated by the people in NBP branches is less than Rs0.5 million. Rs350,000 have been donated in Sindh and Punjab.

Informed official sources disclosed to The News on Thursday that the State Bank of Pakistan figures comprising the total collection of donation in the PM’s account for the flood relief fund by all the designated banks till September 20 stood at Rs98,345,133 (Rs98 million or $1.1 million). 

Such is the pathetic response to Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani’s call for donations in his flood relief fund that the concerned officials in the Finance Ministry and the Cabinet Division are even shy to disclose the figure collected as yet from the local and international donors.

The government authorities are really embarrassed to find what is believed to be an extremely poor response to the prime minister’s appeal made on September 10. Despite the lapse of 12 days, the cash that has come into the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund is too little to be quoted anywhere.

According to sources in one of the leading banks, assigned to collect donations, most of its branches did not receive even one single paisa in the Gilani’s fund.

It was the same reason that even Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan after the cabinet meeting on Wednesday and despite the insistence of the media persons, did not give any figure of donations received by the prime minister’s fund.

The information regarding foreign and local assistance committed or received is also not available on the official website of any of the concerned ministries.

The Gilani regime’s reputation of being one of the most corrupt governments in the history of Pakistan is generally referred to as the major reason for the hesitation of local and international donors to contribute in the government’s fund.

Many foreign friends and states are only sending assistance and help in kind, like the donation announced by UAE on Thursday in shape of food and tents.

According to the Finance Ministry source, the major contribution in the prime minister’s fund as yet has come from the state-controlled NBP, which has deposited Rs25 million in the fund. However, it is interesting to note that the same bank has directly donated relief goods worth Rs100 million, which is four times more than the cash the bank has deposited in the PM’s fund.

This is yet another show of state’s own institutions’ no-trust on the government system. The Senate of Pakistan is already reported to have opted not to donate a penny in the PM’s fund or to rely on government system for the funds the Upper House collected from its own members for the assistance of the flood affectees in Sindh.

It was already feared that the bad reputation of the regime would ward off the international donors and world capitals to pay cash and offer the kind of assistance that Pakistan requires once again to help out the flood affectees in Sindh. 

However, still the government did not evolve any mechanism to win the lost trust of the local and foreign donors by ensuring that each and every penny collected for the flood affectees would be spent in a transparent manner and not corrupted.

The last yearís prime minister’s appeal for the 2010 floods, which were far more devastating as compared to the present one, also received very cold response from international donors and only $21 million was given in cash to the PM’s fund against a total commitment of $3 billion.

Most of the foreign capital countries preferred to help in kind or through the international NGOs etc while in several cases the committed assistance never reached to Pakistan.

Pakistani nation is considered one of the charitable nations in the world but such is the credibility of the otherwise unanimously elected prime minister and his government that the people are not ready to donate to the premier or the government for any cause.