Civil society calls for debt relief to cope with post-flood scenario

Zubair Qureshi

A consortium of civil society organizations (CSOs) led by Fair Finance Pakistan has called for debt relief to Pakistan and urged the international monetary bodies to relax their terms so that the country can be able to cope with post-flood relief and rehabilitation efforts.

The Fair Finance is campaigning with international financial institutions to cancel Pakistan’s debt and provide fiscal space for investing on its people

In a press statement, it said that Pakistan’s climate and debt chaos go hand in hand and cannot be addressed in isolation. With its huge foreign debt and insufficient support to recover from the recent floods, the country is ill-afford to divert its resources to invest in the recovery, health, and well-being of the people of Pakistan, it further said.

The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) estimates Pakistan’s external debt levels were extremely high even before the floods in 2022, reaching US$76 billion. Debt repayments in 2022 will be around US$13.6 billion, a huge proportion of government revenue.

The campaign raises collective voices and echoes sentiments of the millions of voiceless people of Pakistan who are paying the cost of a climate catastrophe they did not cause.

In his message, Mr. Asim Jaffry, Country Program Lead for Fair Finance Pakistan said, “Climate disasters do not occur in isolation, they are part of an escalating pattern of climate change as witnessed by Pakistan over the years.

Insufficient humanitarian response to Pakistan’s floods is a failure of responsibility to the communities worst hit and contributes to cycles of crisis.” Mr. Asim Jaffry further commented, “Non-economic losses and damages from events such as the floods are much harder to quantify. The impact of trauma of repeated flooding and subsequent loss of shelter, livelihoods and loved ones plays havoc with the mental health of people of Pakistan.