PM’s Cabinet Refuses to Release Funds for Drought Relief

The federal government has refused to contribute funds for the relief operations for the prevailing drought in Balochistan and Sindh, citing its restricted functions and role under the 18th amendment and the 9th NFC Award, which gives major resources to the provinces.

As per the details, the provincial disaster management authorities (PDMAs) of the said provinces asked for the contribution of the federal government for relief operations in the drought-hit areas.

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) chalked out a plan for the provision of ration bags worth Rs. 4.25 billion for a month to the drought-affected families. The NDMA also prepared a summary and submitted it to the cabinet for approval.

In a recent meeting, the cabinet was told that drought in Sindh and Balochistan affected around 5 million people and livestock. While the provincial governments have introduced relief operations, a huge number of families still need help.

Drought Response Plan

The cabinet was informed that to minimize the impacts of the drought, the NDMA has finalized a joint coordinated drought response structure in consultation with the PDMAs and several donor agencies while preparing a drought response plan worth $96.3 million.

The response plan focuses on short, medium, and long-term interventions for a year in areas including health, nutrition, food security, and agriculture, women and child protection, and education.

The UNOCHA has also approved a grant of $10 million to assist the respective sectors with an additional $1 million. It is possible that more can be allocated by the Pakistan Humanitarian Pool Fund (PHPF) reserve.

Earlier, the plan was sent to the prime minister for approval, who formed a committee headed by the former finance minister to lay out the drought response plan and send recommendations to the cabinet.

On March 11, the committee recommended that the drought response plan should be approved without any funding from the federal government. It said that the federal government has a restricted role in light of the 18th Constitutional Amendment and the 9th NFC Award that gives most of the resources to the provinces.

The cabinet approved the response plan while heeding the committee’s recommendation that no federal funding would be attached to the program.

Via Express Tribune

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