Saturday, August 28, 2010

Flood Compensation

Government of Pakistan has already started paying compensation to the flood victims.Initially a sum of Rupees 22,000/- per family is being paid.More installments may follow after some more verifications.Mr.Nawaz Sharif has suggested a sum of Rupees 100,000/- per family to be given to the flood victims.It is expected that the compensation may reach to about that level.

Initially an estimate of flood affected population was put at 20 million,which was rather too high.May be this is the total population of the 17 affected districts.More refined estimates are pouring in which would be finalised when the results of UN surveys is out.A population of 6 million or 1 million IDP families is perhaps more closer to reality.

Le us try to analyse the affordability and genuine requirements of the victims.For Kacca areas who generally donot have pukka houses and are quite poor,starting life again may not be as costly as others.In todays prices a two room Kutcha house would cost Rs 30,000/- to build.A living allowance of Rs 30,000/- may cover expenses of three month.And another 30,000/- probably to be the working capital for whatever they were doing before the floods. Adding a cash liquidity for emergent expenses totals it to Rupees one hundred thousand.On e would like to be more generous and helpful atleast on paper,but then that would be an exercise in futility and shear waste of time due to poor implementation prospect.For ,one million families,this would amount to Rs.100 billion.GOP has already received flood aid offers of more than one billion US dollar.I am not aware how much has already been spent on emergency activities. I believe not much because alot of in kind domestic and foreign aid has come also.So flood aid of up to 1.25 billion US dollar would be able to support the relaunching of one million families.It appears Mr.Nawaz Sharif got his calculations made before issuing the statement which is a good omen and should be welcome.

There has been a tradition of issuing grotesque estimates in Pakistan. President Zardari started with a requirement of 100 billion US dollar even before the floods.More technical estimators in the bureaucracy later toned down the losses due to terrorism to 45 billion US dollars.There have demands earlier from PML for getting all the loans written off which should be a hefty 70 billion US dollars.This time more grotesque estimates are coming from government of NWFP.There is quite a possibility of inter-provincial dispute and discord on the distribution of flood compensation.It is hoped that sense would prevail and reasonableness would be shown.

GOP and provincial governments may legitimately expect concessionary loans for repairs and rebuilding.Asian Development Bank has already offered a loan of one billion US dollar.Interest rates offered are not known.International community may provide some assistance towards a reasonably low interest rate.Fortunately,in Punjab higher agricultural out put has been predicted due to flood fertility and residual moisture.However one would not be too sure of Sindh where Thatta is the most recent and probably the last victim.Ironically the lack of preparedness and the surprise element remains the same as it was at the advent of the floods.Whom to blame?
Perhaps there is a genetic problem with us.We cannot put our act together even when facing such challenges.Perhaps a Nuremberg trial may have to be organised and irrigation officials ,especially, of Sindh be arraigned and all those who indulged in political decisions in breaking the bunds and the dykes.

It is highly important that IDPSs return home as early as the flood water recedes to start their normal lives.All payments should be made transparently through the banking and Card system , a good innovation of the PPP government wrt its Benazir support programme.An expeditious distribution of compensation in two or three installments in the next two ot three months would be in order.Uth bandh kamar kya darta hai ,Phir dekh Khuda Kya karta hai

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