Speeches & Transcripts

Remarks at the United Nations High Level Ministerial Meeting on the Flood Emergency in Pakistan

September 19, 2010

Robert B. Zoellick At the United Nations High Level Ministerial Meeting on the Flood Emergency in Pakistan New York, NY, United States

As Prepared for Delivery

Mr. Secretary- General, Minister Qureshi and Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen: I want to express my sympathy to the people of Pakistan who suffered so greatly and lost so much.

I want to thank the UN and other rescue workers who stepped up to the challenge.  The first focus has understandably been on the humanitarian calls for help.  The World Bank Group pitched in with rescue boats and the $300 million of fast-disbursing funds for critical needs.

For the fiscal year, we will devote one billion dollars of concessional finance, our IDA money, for flood recovery and reconstruction.  Thank you for those who have contributed to IDA.

I expect that IFC, our private sector arm, will commit $400-500 million this year as well for microfinance, and trade finance.

We’ve worked with donors to MDTF for border areas to reallocate those contributions, although they are sorely needed in frontier areas too.

All this has to be just a start.

Many have mentioned partnering with AsDB and One UN on damage and needs assessment as waters recede.  There is a team of over 100 people, covering 66 sector specialists.

Here’s the main reason I wanted to join you today: maybe, just maybe, we can transform tragedy to opportunity.  We will only succeed if government truly takes ownership, and is backed seriously by donors.

Here I would like to highlight three ingredients:

First, to make most effective use of help – and even to secure full donor support – the Government needs reconstruction founded on transparency, accountability and flexibility.

We need to work through Pakistan institutions.

As I discussed with the Minister of Finance, the World Bank has practical experience in fiduciary responsibility, finance management, and procurement.  We have experience in connecting local voice and community participation.  Senior Pakistan officials have told us this is what they want to do.

Yet experience warns that the machinery tends to slide back to business as usual.

I urge the Government of Pakistan to take concrete steps, backed by law, by October meeting in Brussels, if not before.

The World Bank Group will help:  This is an opportunity to build Pakistan ownership, and government capacity.

Second, we will be able to get donors to contribute more – and sustain their efforts.  If GOP can help by showing it will mobilize all its strength.  We’ve seen fantastic capabilities in Pakistan’s rescue efforts.  We need to continue and broaden civilian and political segment.

Pakistan’s revenue has amounted to about 9% of GDP.  This is pretty low by international standards.  We need Pakistanis to pay for Pakistan if we are to mobilize the world to pay for Pakistan.  Again, we’re pleased the Government has stated its commitment, and we would be pleased to assist with follow through working with the IMF.

Third, we need to build off the needs assessment and the Government of Pakistan plan – to better integrate work, be more effective, and get the value for each dollar.

We need to link humanitarian activities - as such shelter – to reconstruction.

We can link quick assistance to farmers and basic livelihood support to improved husbandry, better irrigation system and land policy.

We need to connect reconstruction to counterpart private sector in Pakistan.

The IFC, the World Bank’s private sector arm, has about $760 million of investment in Pakistan.  We would like to do more with: SME ventures we have used elsewhere; small business facility, microfinance; private equity to help business to lease equipment for rebuilding; and, perhaps private sector assistance to infrastructure.

The United State has discussed an Enterprise Fund (EF).  I’ve pointed out to Congressional Committees and government officials that they and other donors can use our structures – systems to move faster.  Perhaps other donors may be interested.

We know that as waters recede, so will world media attention.

Ours must not.

I urge us to employ the October meeting in Brussels and November in Pakistan to build mutual commitment and partnership.