LAHORE   -    Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Miftah Ismail said on Saturday that government had given Rs70billion for relief and rehabilitation of flood-affected people.

He was talking to media persons after having a meeting with office-bearers of All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) here at APTMA House. Federal Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique and APTMA Group Leader Dr Gohar Ejaz also accompanied him. 

Miftah said that another Rs50billion would be provided for the flood affectees. He mentioned that 33 million Pakistanis were currently living under the open sky, asserting that Prime Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif was working day and night for early rehabilitation of the flood victims. The prime minister would soon hold meetings with industrialists and business community in this regard.

He said that APTMA had deposited Rs400million into the Prime Minister’s Flood Relief Fund, and the Association would also donate Rs one billion more for the flood-stricken brothers and sisters.

Finance minister said that the estimates of flood destruction were US $18.5 billion. He mentioned that 6,500 km of roads, 246 bridges, 1.7 million houses had been destroyed. One million animals died and 1,300 people lost their lives in the natural calamity. He said that Rs1,000billion would have to be spent on reconstruction and rehabilitation of the roads destroyed in the flash floods.

He said that the government alone could not overcome such a huge losses due to deluge and torrential rains in the country, therefore the rich and philanthropists would have to play their due role for the help and support to the people affected by the floods.

To a question, he said, “In the meeting with APTMA office-bearers and other stakeholders, we have discussed the gas and electricity problems being faced by textile millers.” The government would ensure that no mill closed its operations due to shortage of gas or electricity supply.

Miftah Ismail said that government was ensuring provision of 100 per cent facilitation to export-oriented industry with an effort to enhance the country’s overall exports.

To a question, federal minister said when the government came into power in April, there was a serious threat of default as the foreign exchange reserves were US $10.5 billion while US $ 36 billions were required for debt repayments and other expenses so tough decision, based on ground realities, were needed to avert the default. He declared that the risk of Pakistan’s default had evaporated due to tough decisions such as an increase in energy prices and curtailment of imports, which slashed the demand for foreign exchange.

On this occasion, Federal Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique said that provinces of Balochistan and Sindh had been severely affected by the floods. He added that Punjab as a big brother, would have to release its resources for the flood-hit areas. 

Khawaja Saad Rafique said, “We are grateful to all the countries which have helped Pakistan in this time of difficulty and tragedy.”

To a query, he said that they were not interested in taking over the government, but they could not see Pakistan going to be bankrupt.

The APTMA Group Leader Dr Gohar Ejaz said that the Association would also donate 150,000 ration bags to the flood victims for one month.