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September 15, 2018

Dams need billions of dollars, not peanuts offered by expats

Top Story

September 15, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Total donations from abroad received for Prime Minister and Chief Justice of Pakistan’s Dam fund till September 13 (Thursday) is only $1.48 million (Rs181 million).

Initially announced by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Saqib Nisar during the first fortnight of July this year, the Diamer Bhasha and Mohmand Dams Fund was later joined by Prime Minister Imran Khan who had appealed for donations in dollars, particularly from overseas Pakistanis on September 7. Consequently, it was renamed as Prime Minister & Chief Justice of Pakistan’s Diamer Bhasha and Mohmand Dams Fund.

According to the updated total figure received so far, as reflected on Supreme Court’s website till 4:30pm September 14, is Rs3.2 billion. It includes the donations received from both inside and outside the country.

The SC’s website does not show the breakup of the foreign and local donations received. However, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) in its website shared these details, which shows that the majorchunk of the fund raised so far has the local component while a small portion has been contributed by the overseas Pakistanis.

According to experts, construction of the Diamer Bhasha Dam alone will require $14 billion, which is equivalent to Rs1,750 billion. So far, a total of Rs3.2 billion have been collected and it includes the leading contribution of one billion rupees from the Pakistan Army.

Circles close to PM Office were upbeat about the progress in the dams' fund. They said that the fund raising has just been started and in a few days a handsome amount has been received. They said by the Grace of God the initiative taken for a good cause will succeed.

The SBP data shows that out of Rs3.27 billion, the local contribution in the fund is Rs3.09 billion, which means that in Pak rupees the amount donated by overseas Pakistanis so far is only Rs181 million. This data is updated on Friday but covers the amount received till Sept 13. A comparison of the SBP data of Sept 13 with Sept 14 shows addition of almost $200,000 in 24 hours.

Countrywide receipts show that the overseas Pakistanis living in the United States are on top with their contribution of Rs61 million ($0.48m) followed by the UAE with Rs30 million ($0.24m) and the UK with Rs21.8 million ($0.176m).

Other prominent overseas contributors are from Saudi Arabia, Rs16 million; Canada Rs13.3 million; Australia Rs7.2 million; Qatar Rs4.4 million. From overseas Pakistanis in Turkey, the fund received only Rs3,500; from Brazil only Rs1,500; Jordan Rs10,000. Interestingly, funds of Rs33,491 from India has also been received by the SBP. From Afghanistan, the fund received were Rs3,000.

These figures received from abroad, negates the propaganda about huge donations made by some overseas Pakistanis, who are considered billionaires. On September 7, Prime Minister Imran Khan spoke to the nation in a brief televised speech and appealed for donations to the dams’ fund set up by the Supreme Court.

The prime minister asked all the overseas Pakistanis in particular to make as many donations as they can to the dams’ fund in dollars to plug the country's depleting foreign exchange reserves as well as provide funding to start building dams, which he said he would personally oversee.

Assuring he would safeguard their donations against any misuse, Imran Khan said, “If every overseas Pakistani donates $1,000, we will have enough to build the dams ourselves." The prime minister had also cited the example of Egypt, which he said had launched a similar drive to build dams using its own resources.

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