Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani Saturday informed the National Assembly that the Council of Common Interests (CCI) would decide about the proportionate distribution of the money among provinces from the PM’s Flood Relief Fund.
“Till now no funds have been transferred to any province from the PM’s Fund. Its decision will be made at the CCI meeting,” the Prime Minister said in response to certain points raised by the Leader of the Opposition, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan.
“Some funds have been provided to the provinces proportionately from the Usher-Zakat Fund,” he added and rejected the claim that any province was provided assistance from the PM’s Fund by ignoring the others.
But, he said, “we need more funds. We cannot meet the needs of the affectees from our own resources. We shall need international assistance, even if we mobilize all our resources.”
Gilani endorsed the proposal of oversight on spending the relief assistance and said, a body has been constituted with representation from the provinces to oversee the flood relief assistance.
“I am ready for monitoring. Do not doubt our intentions. I am ready to do all under the constitution. I have no hesitation. Oversight and accountability will rather enhance my image and credibility,” the Prime Minister
He said certain technicalities were involved in the disbursement of funds but the intention.was clear The provinces will also have to pool some resources and then the Center will also contribute its share, he added.
He said 80 per cent of relief assistance worth US$1.03 billion, coming to Pakistan or pledges made so far, will be spent through the NGOs and only 20 per cent through the government.
On the points raised by the Leader of the Opposition, the Prime Minister also mentioned the delay in holding the NA session and said, it was due to the crucial flood situation in Sindh, after it played havoc in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab.
“In that situation, I had to talk to Mian Nawaz Sharif for postponing the session. Yes, here I by-passed the Leader of the Opposition,” Gilani said and added, we did not desire to postpone the session but it was urgent that the members could have visited their areas for relief efforts.
He said despite that the government prepared the agenda for the requisitioned session. “We decided this time that if the opposition’s agenda is to discuss the flood situation, the government will not only carry the opposition’s agenda but also ensure to maintain quorum, he added.
Explaining another point, Gilani said, the cheques of the assistance which are provided to local authorities are not all from the PM’s Fund but also contributions from philanthropists who prefer to pay in cash instead of kind and, “I just give to the affectees as a token or gesture.”
He said,” Around 130 to 137 planeloads received so far have been distributed among the provinces proportionately and I can present the record to the House.”
“All items carried by these planes like tents, food, medicines, medical kits have been provided to the affectees in all provinces. If there is any
discrimination, I am ready to rectify.”
On the issue of transparency, the Prime Minister said, only 20 per cent assistance would be utilized through the government and for us there is no problem to maintain transparency. Remaining 80 per cent shall be used by the NGOs.
The Prime Minister also clarified that his previous statement was not meant to criticize the NGOs. “I only meant that if the money comes through the government channels, 100 per cent would be spent on affectees as in that case the overhead charges would have been minimum.”
He said criticism is the right of the opposition but they should also acknowledge the contribution of the government and state institutions.
Gilani agreed with Nisar to regulate those raising funds at various levels and said, the government will ensure a credible monitoring system to oversee the distribution of funds.
The Prime Minister also clarified a news item appearing in a section of the press attributed to him and said, “I never ever mentioned names of any Generals. I mentioned dictators, who I had stated, tookover in the name of accountability, to win support of some thieves. But, even after their eight or ten years’ rule, they left without any accountability.”
He underlined the need to make institutions strong for an effective accountability system and asked the Law Ministry to soon bring the proposed accountability law to the House.
The Prime Minister also endorsed the proposal of the Leader of the Opposition to convene a special session of the House on the flood situation and devise a national strategy.
The Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Chaurdhy Nisar Ali Khan said that he did not talk about the relief goods distributed in
the flood-hit areas, “I have asked about the financial assistance received so far.”
He said that it is time to focus on the rehabilitation process and for that purpose the federation and the federating units should have to chalk out a joint strategy.
He said the provincial governments are not clear as to the time frame and how much the federal government would give them assistance. The federal government should make it clear, he added.
Nisar said that the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) had failed to deliver and disbursement of donation through this institution has not been carried out correctly.
He further said that the money being pledged by the international community and organizations should not be given in the shape of loans for relief and rehabilitation.
He said 80 per cent donations are coming through NGOs but there is no mechanism to monitor the utilization of these funds in a transparent manner.
Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said the discussion on the flood situation should be continued in the next session of the National Assembly.