Pakistan says flood damage over $10 billion, urges IMF to expedite bailout
Islamabad, Aug 29 (EFE).- Pakistani Finance Minister Miftah Islmail said on Monday that the economic losses caused by the severe floods ravaging the country could amount to $10 billion and urged the International Monetary Fund to release around $1.2 billion of an ongoing bailout package to help deal with the crisis.
“Our estimate is that the floods would initially cost Pakistan around $10 billion,” Ismail said in a press conference in Islamabad on Monday, warning that the damage could be even higher.
The minister urged the IMF, whose executive board is set to meet on Monday, to release two new tranches worth $1.2 billion out of a $6 billion loan program.
“I believe in God that the (IMF) board will approve the disbursement of the 8th and 9th tranche today. If it doesn’t, Pakistan would be in a serious economic condition,” Ismail said.
The government of Pakistan signed a financial assistance deal worth $6 billion with the IMF in 2019, which is set to be disbursed over three years, but had been suspended over Islamabad not fulfilling some of the conditions of the agreement, fearing public anger.
The country had been hit by devastating floods at a time when its economy is in shambles, as foreign currency reserves have dried up, local currency has devalued sharply and inflation has spiked, hitting 44 percent last week.
The National Disaster Management Authority said on Monday that at least 1,136 people, including 386 children, had been killed due to heavy rains and flooding since mid-June, while 1,634 people were wounded.
As per official data, 75 people were killed in rain-related incidents in the last 24 hours, while 30 million of the country’s around 220 million people have been affected by the deluge.
Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday visited the flood-affected Nowshera and Charsadda districts of the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
In a televised speech, Sharif said that the country was witnessing its heaviest rains and flooding in three decades, worse than even the 2010 floods that had killed over 2,000 people across the country.
“There is an ocean of floodwater everywhere,” said the PM, who assured the affected people of economic assistance.
On Sunday Pakistan had called for international help to deal with the floods, after declaring an emergency in the affected areas and deploying the military in rescue efforts.
At least four planes carrying humanitarian aid from Turkey and three from the United Arab Emirates landed in the country on Monday, while two Chinese aircrafts were expected within the next 48 hours, the Pakistani military said in a statement.
During the monsoon season in South Asia — which lasts from June to September — landslides and floods are common, often causing both material damage and casualties. EFE