Pakistan judiciously, transparently utilizing flood relief funds: Dr. Hafeez

ISLAMABAD:Federal Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs, Dr.Abdul Hafeez Shaikh said on Thursday that the government is judiciously and transparently utilizing flood relief funds for flood victims  and there is no question of any misuse of the aid.The government has constituted 15-member National Oversight Disaster Management Council, comprising impeccable integrity members to ensure transparent aid to flood victims in the country, he said while addressing a joint press conference with Minister for Information and Broadcasting Qamar Zaman Kaira and State Minister for Finance Ms.Hina Rabbani Khar at launching the Curtain Raiser of Pakistan development Forum (PDF) 2010, here on Thursday.

Secretary Finance Salman Saddiq, Secretary Planning Ashraf Hayat and Chairman Federal Board of Revenue Sohail Ahmed were also present on the occasion.Dr.Shaikh said that the members of the Council are highly powered and independent in decision making process and monitoring the utilization of the flood relief funds for rehabilitation and reconstruction of the flood victims.He said that Disaster Need Assessment (DNA) conducted jointly by the World Bank (WB) and Asian Development Bank (ADB) has estimated about US $ 10 billion caused to Pakistan due to devastating floods in the country.He added the out of US $ 10 billion losses due to floods Pakistan has suffered a damage of US $ 5 billion crops,land US $ 2 billion to citizen housing and US $ 3 billion to infrastructure of the government.The Minister said that government is taking measures for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of flood victims.He added that the government has started citizen development compensation through Watan Cards to the victims.He justified the introduction of RGST at a uniform rate of 15 per cent with no new taxes.Regarding the flood tax, he said that the Cabinet has also approved the draft Bill of revenue measures to meet extra budgetary expenditures one-time Flood Relief Surcharge 2010 and increase in Special Excise Duty to raise additional resources for provision of relief to the flood affected people and to fund the rehabilitation and reconstruction work.

Introduction of Flood Relief Surcharge and increase in Special Excise Duty on imports as well as on domestic produce or manufactures under the Federal Excise Act, 2005 is estimated to generate additional revenues to the extent of Rs 40 to Rs.45 billion for the remainder of financial year 2010-11.This Surcharge will be levied at the rate of 10 per cent on every tax payer’s Income Tax payable amount, he added.He said that the Cabinet approved to enhance the existing rate of Special Excise Duty from 1 to 2 percent to generate additional revenue at an estimated amount of Rs 11 billion.Highlighting the Pakistan Development Forum (PDF) 2010 and its agenda,  he said that the Forum would be held here on November 14-15 to focus and share with the participants and development partners the future development vision of Pakistan for the prosperity of its people.
“We are holding the Forum in 2010, as the last PDF was held in 2007”, he said and explained the forum would provide opportunity to have comprehensive dialogue with our development partners on government’s strategic direction, priorities and policies.He further said that deliberations of the PDF influence forthcoming the country Partnership Programs/Strategies of the Donors adding that in addition,feedback from the development community facilitates alignment of government policy with international best practices.

He said that the event is particularly significant this year in view of the evastation caused by the floods and the consequential economic fallout.“High level local and international participation including US Special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke, Vice President of World Bank and ADB , UK Minister for International development and senior officials of the IMF are expected in the forum”, he remarked.He said that to make the forum more representative, the Chief Ministers of the province and civil society organizations including Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) would also participate and share the development strategies in their respective provinces.The Minister said that the PDF is a forum for comprehensive development dialogue between the Government and its partners. Last PDF was held in April 2007.He said that the PDF 2010 is a two day event, focusing on critical areas of the mutual interest having following focus on country’s economic development areas that will be covered, including Vision and Strategies of the provinces about the post flood economic and social development, Flood Damages, Need Assessment and Reconstruction. Protection of the poor and vulnerable, State of the Economy – Challenges and response, Growth and sectoral reforms and Aid effectiveness.

Dr.Hafeez said further said that the main focus of the PDF is on the reforms agenda of Government in social, economic and government sectors, both in the short and medium term.The PDF, he said is sometimes misunderstood as a pledging forum for donors.However,he said it is actually an opportunity for the Government to chart out its future economic & social strategy and have a dialogue with the donors.The donors, as a result of this dialogue, often re-align their strategies to plan and deliver future economic assistance to Pakistan.The Minister said that the Forum would also give an opportunity to our leading private sector entrepreneurs to interact with the donor community.This form will also provide a platform to the local entities, INGOs/NGOs to participate in the dialogue and share their experiences and perspective on current development issues.
Delegates from 30 countries and 5 organization are expected to attend PDF 2010. 264 donor representatives from overseas or their local missions have confirmed participation – App