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ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Planning, Development and Special Initiatives was informed that the total quantum of committed donors financing for Covid-19 pandemic was $483.96 million against the total requirement of $595 million indicated in the Pakistan Preparedness Response Plan (PPRP).

The Committee met with Senator Dr Asad Ashraf in the chair at the Parliament House on Thursday.

The Committee was briefed regarding Covid-19 pandemic in Pakistan with complete details of allocated funds, equipment and its utilisation.

The Committee also deliberated over the RBOD II Project, and the remaining scope of work.

The Committee was informed that donor funding consisting of loans, grants and in-kind support that included PPEs, lab consumables, establishment of provincial and district diseases surveillance response units across the country was provided as well.

It was told that endeavour to fight against Covid-19 was provided by the Asian Development Bank in the form of a concessional loan facility amounting $200 million.

This assistance came in the backdrop of the request of the government of Pakistan to boost its response mechanism.

The soft loan for social protection for poor and vulnerable has been extended under the emergency assistance for fighting against COVID-19 pandemic.

This loan was distributed under the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme.

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), the lead focal agency for COVID-19 response informed the Committee that the prime minister's allocation was Rs25.3 billion; expenditures amounted to Rs13.496 billion.

The official said other donor organisations were Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Isolation Hospital and Infectious Treatment Center (IHITC).

He said that the basic challenges faced by the agency included lack of domestic manufacturing capacity, demand and supply gap, hoarding of essential supplies and movement of goods and services hampered due to lockdown.

Senator Engr Rukhsana Zuberi enquired about the level of preparedness of the agency and stressed the need to ramp it up to deal with any contingencies in the future.

Chairman Committee, Senator Dr Asad Ashraf asserted that rapid response was imperative to saving lives.

It was also asserted that hands-on training of staff serving ICUs is essential especially of those that deal with ventilators and respirators.

Discussing the RBOD II Project, the Committee was informed that this project began in 2001 and since then has been in the lurch.

Senator Gianchand said that in previous meetings, it was discussed that the project will be handled by the Frontier Works Organization.

He said that later it was revealed that certain technical issues were cause of delay.

He said that frequent change of Project Directors was another major issue that stalls the project.

The Committee was apprised that a third party audit was being conducted to ascertain the cause of delay. Senator Engr Rukhsana Zuberi stressed the need to involve the Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC).

She added that a system must be put in place to allow project directors to evaluate and monitor projects on a regular basis.

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 along with all concerned. Representatives of the Ministry of National Health Services, Coordination and Reforms, Finance, EAD, NDMA, and Department of Irrigation, Sindh were also present.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020