Detailed breakdown of how COVID-19 Aid received by Pakistan was utilized

Alongside Covid-19, the Committee also deliberated over the RBOD II Project and the remaining scope of work.

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The Senate Standing Committee on Planning Development and Special Initiatives, held a Committee meeting chaired by Senator Dr. Asad Ashraf, on Thursday. The meeting was attended by Senator Hidayat Ullah, Senator Engr. Rukhsana Zuberi, Senator Rana Maqbool Ahmed, Senator Gianchand, and senior officers from the Ministry of Planning Development and Special Initiatives. Representatives of the Ministry of National Health Services Coordination and Reforms, Finance, EAD, NDMA, and Department of Irrigation, Sindh, were also present.

The Committee was briefed in detail regarding the COVID-19 Pandemic in Pakistan.

The Committee was informed that the total quantum of committed donor financing for the COVID 19 pandemic is USD 483.96 million against the fundamental requirement of USD 595 million indicated in the Pakistan Preparedness Response Plan (PPRP). A complete description of allocated funds, equipment, and its utilization was provided to the Committee.

A record of donor funding comprised of loans, grants, and in-kind support that included PPEs, Lab consumables, and the establishment of provincial and district disease surveillance response units across the country was provided to the Committee.

The Asian Development Bank provided endeavors to fight against the COVID 19 pandemic in the form of a concessional loan facility, amounting to USD 200 million to help the Government of Pakistan boost its response mechanism. Under the Ehsas Emergency Cash Program, the emergency assistance for fighting against the COVID 19 Pandemic, and the soft loan for social protection for the poor and vulnerable was also extended.

NDMA, the lead focal agency for COVID 19 Response, informed:

PM allocation was Rs. 25.3 billion; expenditures amounted to Rs. 13.496 billion. Other donor organizations were ADB and IHITC. Major supplies distributed nationwide included face masks, N-95 Masks, Protective Suits, Goggles, Face Shields, Latex/Nitrile/ Surgical Gloves, Ventilators, Portable X-Ray Machines, Portable X-Ray machines, PCR Lab machines, etc.

According to the agency, the primary challenges faced due to the lockdown were:

  • lack of domestic manufacturing capacity
  • demand and supply gap
  • hoarding of essential supplies
  • hampering of movement of goods and services

During the Committee meeting, Senator Engr. Rukhsana Zuberi inquired about the agency\’s preparedness level and stressed the need to ramp it up to deal with any contingencies in the future. Chairman Committee, Senator Dr. Asad Ashraf asserted:

The rapid response is imperative to saving lives. Considering this, hands-on training of staff serving ICUs is essential, especially of those that deal with ventilators and respirators.

Alongside Covid-19, the Committee also deliberated over the RBOD II Project and the remaining scope of work.

The Committee was informed that this project began in 2001 and since then has been in the lurch. Regarding this, Senator Gianchand said:

In the previous meetings, it was discussed that the Frontier Works Organization would handle the project. Later it was revealed that specific technical issues were the cause of the delay.

A major issue causing the stall of the project is the frequent change of Project Directors. The Committee was apprised that a third-party audit is being conducted to ascertain the cause of delay. Senator Engr. Rukhsana Zuberi stressed the need to involve the Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC) and said:

A system must be put in place to allow Project Directors to evaluate and monitor projects regularly.

The Committee meeting concluded with a decision that the PEC and other stakeholders will be engaged to assess the project\’s status in detail and report back to the Committee on the issues and solutions to expedite the work towards completion.

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