Pakistan

France-led donor conference faces delay


The France-led international donors’ conference seeking financial commitments for the rehabilitation of flood-hit Pakistan will not be held this month due to a delay in finalising the reconstruction framework, sources said on Friday.

The proceedings of a consultative meeting held on Friday between the planning ministry and the international donors revealed that the Resilient Recovery and Reconstruction Framework (3RF) was still at a consultative stage.

The framework at least in some shape is the prerequisite for convincing the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to send its mission to Pakistan and also hold the international donors’ conference.

Secretary Planning Commission Syed Zafar Ali Shah chaired the consultative meeting with the donors and diplomats from various countries so a comprehensive rehabilitation plan comprising short-term and long-term could be presented before the donor conference, according to the planning ministry’s press statement.

The sources said that the proceedings showed that the preparation for the framework was at a “pre-framework stage” where stakeholders’ consultations were being held. Another round of consultations will be held next week once Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal returns from Egypt where he has gone to attend the COP27 conference.

The purpose of consultations is to refine strategic recovery objectives and prioritise sectors for inclusion in the recovery framework as part of each strategic recovery objective.

French President Emmanuel Macron has offered to hold a donor conference with the collaboration of the United Nations to get financial support for Pakistan to cope with $30 billion losses caused by the floods.

Last month, a spokesman of the Foreign Office said that “a comprehensive plan will be taken to this conference. We can expect this to take place towards the end of the year, perhaps the end of November". He added that final decisions would be taken on this, about the exact timing and the venue of this conference.

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While speaking on the floor of the National Assembly, the planning minister had also hoped to hold the conference this month. But the details shared with the diplomats and the foreign lenders showed that the conference may not take place before December 20.

The planning ministry officials said two more stages were left after the completion of the phase. The 3RF looks at the recovery and reconstruction needs within a period of five to seven years.

The sources said that after the preparation of the framework the validation exercise will be done before convening the donors’ conference.

The donors were informed on Friday that by November 23rd the multi-stakeholder roundtables with the donor community and line ministries will be finalised. Similarly, the planning priorities for each sector will be finalised by November 30. The analysis and drafting of chapters will be completed by December 5 and feedback and validation by all the stakeholders will be done by December 10.

The report will be ready by December 20, leading to the holding of an international conference.

However, given the usual bureaucratic inefficiencies coupled with the ongoing half-day strike by the Economist Group that is seeking parity in pay, following these deadlines appears to be a difficult task.

A day earlier, Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, the foreign office spokeswoman said that an international donors’ conference to seek funds for the flood victims in Pakistan will likely be held in Geneva. Once the dates are finalized, we will share with you,” Mumtaz told reporters at her maiden press briefing after she was appointed as the Foreign Office spokesperson.

Read more UN proposes debt relief to Pakistan amid flood recovery

Secretary Zafar Ali Shah said that the consultative process will continue and the ministry will hold another round of meetings next week before finalizing a concrete plan which will plan the country to uplift in the rehabilitation phase.

Pakistan strongly pleaded its case before the COP27 Climate Conference in Sharm El-Sheikh and urged the world to support it despite it having a less than 1% contribution to global warming.

Last month, Pakistan released the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) report, which called for coordinated international support.

During the meeting, the Secretary Planning Commission informed the participants that the basic objective of this meeting is to expedite the consultative process by engaging the donors before presenting a comprehensive plan at the donor conference.

A day earlier, the finance ministry officials had held the planning ministry officials for delaying the preparation of the framework, which the IMF has demanded to determine the impact of the floods on the $6.5 billion bailout package and Pakistan’s budget.

Ironically, Pakistan does not know how many people have been affected by the floods, as per the statement by a director of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).

Read 'Unrealistic' flood cost baffles IMF

The 17 sectors have been properly covered in the 3 RF which needs maximum funds to rebuild climate-resilient infrastructure in flood-affected areas, said Syed Zafar Ali Shah, while appreciating the donors for supporting Pakistan.

During the meeting, several projects were highlighted which have been recently started by the provincial governments after the recent floods in collaboration with the donor based on climate resilience.

The reconstruction framework will enhance the transparency of recovery and reconstruction activities and identify financing gaps and how various financing streams can be filled, according to the planning ministry. It will also define the timeframe, priority, institutional arrangements and financial planning for recovery and reconstruction implementation, it added.

The framework will also identify on and off budget financing needs and suggest measures to mobilize funds through the budget review, donor assistance and private sector help.


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