LAHORE - The government will require about Rs 700 billion to 800 billion for the rehabilitation of the flood affectees, Federal Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira told reporters at an iftar-dinner here on Saturday. He said the finance minister would brief the Council of Common Interests on Monday (tomorrow) about the pledges he had received from the IMF and other countries and the steps required to meet the shortfall. He strongly defended the rescue and relief measures taken by various government agencies and the plans that were under consideration to enable all flood victims to stand on their feet. He dismissed assertions that the world community did not trust the government or that aid flow was less than expected because of the credibility issue. The minister said the destruction caused by the floodwaters was so wide-ranging that the country would feel the aftershocks for a long time to come. However, he said, there was no possibility of any food shortages. At present, he said the government had three million tons of surplus wheat in its stocks, which was sufficient to meet the next year requirement despite the expected decline in production. Rice was also available to meet the requirements, he added. According to him, the sugar production could fall short of the needs as sugarcane crop had been badly affected. He indicated the government could think of rationing the sweetener if no alternative worked. Kaira said it was true that the Met Office had issued a warning in June that the rainfall expected during the coming year monsoon would be more than that in the previous years. But, he said, nobody had the least idea about the enormity of the problem. He said the government had not purchased tents or other relief goods in advance for the fear of being accused of taking such steps for the sake of commissions. The minister said the government was taking emergency measures to help the flood victims. Kaira did not agree with the suggestion that the idea of a new supervisory body presented by PML-N Chief Nawaz Sharif had been ignored by the government. He said the former prime minister had proposed that the government and the provinces should set up a pool of Rs250 billion, a suggestion unacceptable to various federating units. He said some provinces had told the Centre that they could not spare 30 per cent of their development funds, as proposed by Nawaz. He said since the coalition government was supposed to take its allies along, it could not afford to annoy them. About the financial assistance to be given to the flood hit people, he said a fool-proof system was being devised as a result of which those carrying national ID cards and even those without them would get assistance. He said special cards would be issued to the people and the holders thereof would get money and food without any inconvenience. Replying to a question, he said the government would set up a number of new dams to meet water and power requirements in the future. As for Kalabagh Dam, he said, it could be constructed only when there was national consensus about it. In reply to another question, the minister said the breach of the Tori embankment would be investigated.