LAHORE    -   Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Miftah Ismail Sunday said that 33 million Pakistanis were liv­ing under the open sky while Rs 1000 billion were needed for recon­struction of damaged roads alone.

“The rehabilitation of affected peo­ple and reconstruction and repair of damaged roads, bridges, railway tracks and other infrastructure was a herculean task which was impos­sible to surpass without active par­ticipation of the industrialists and business community”, he said in a meeting with a delegation of indus­trialists and businessmen here at Governor’s House.

Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Sardar Ayaz Sadiq also ac­companied him. The delegation comprised Shahzad Salim, Shahid Abdullah, Arif Saeed, Khalid Afridi, Farooq Naseem, Zubair N. Chattha, Irfan Iqbal Sheikh, Abbas Mukhtar, Murad Saigal and Adnan Aftab.

The finance minister urged the business community to raise at least Rs 2 billion for the flood victims as the government alone could not over­come huge losses due to flash floods and torrential rains in the country. He suggested that the business commu­nity should form a committee com­prising industrialists and business­men from Lahore, Faisalabad, Sialkot and other industrial cities of Punjab for collection of flood donations. 

“The rich and wealthy people would have to come forward for the help and support to the people af­fected by the floods”, he said.

He assured that the government would not only conduct an inter­nal audit of the flood relief funds and donations but also get the same from a reputable international audit firm. The government was maintain­ing the balance sheet of each and ev­ery penny of the flood funds.

Miftah Ismail told the delegation that the government had given Rs 70 billion for relief and rehabilitation of flood affected people and another Rs 50 billion would also be provided for the purpose. 

He mentioned that 33 million Pa­kistanis were currently living under the open sky while 6,500 kilometers of roads, 246 bridges, and 1.7 mil­lion houses had been destroyed. One million animals died and 1,300 peo­ple lost their lives in the natural ca­lamity, he said, adding that Rs 1,000 billion were needed to reconstruct the damaged roads alone. He fur­ther informed that total losses due to floods had been estimated at US $18.5 billion. 

Miftah Ismail said the government was ensuring provision of 100 per­cent facilitation to export-oriented industry with an effort to enhance the country’s overall exports that was a prerequisite to speedy eco­nomic development.

On this occasion, Federal Minis­ter for Economic Affairs Sardar Ayaz Sadiq said that the government was making all out efforts to get con­cessions from the US and European Union (EU) for Pakistani exporters. The donor and other countries were also being urged to not only extend help and support to our flood vic­tims but also make investments in Pakistan, he added.