Damage from Pakistan floods is ‘far greater’ than $10b

THE damage from the floods in Pakistan will be “far greater” than $10 billion, according to the planning minister, after millions lost their homes and livelihoods while key roads and bridges have been washed away.

As officials are still tallying the cost of heavy flooding that has claimed more than 1,300 lives, the latest assessment shows the damage will be worse than the initial forecast. The final value will take six to eight weeks to determine, said Ahsan Iqbal, the minister of planning and development, adding that the climate disaster is due to the actions of the developed world.

“All those countries that contributed to global warming have a responsibility to help us now and be partners in rehabilitation and rebuilding,” Iqbal, who’s leading the country’s flood relief efforts, said by phone. “This tragedy is not of our own making. It’s due to global warming.”

The South Asian nation, which was already reeling from dwindling currency reserves and inflation at the highest in decades, is now facing losses from a terrible natural disaster. More than a third of the country is under water and about half a million people have been forced into relief camps. With crops and livestock swept away, the government has warned of a looming food crisis.

About 45% of the cotton output, one of Pakistan’s most important cash crops and commonly referred to as “white gold”, has been destroyed. The country will have to spend $3 billion to import the raw material for its textile industry, which is the top foreign exchange earner, Iqbal said, citing initial estimates.

A surge in food costs and ballooning import bills will add strain to the Pakistan economy. The country has just secured a $1.16 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund to avert an imminent default. –BLOOMBERG