LAHORE - Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif has said that flood has awakened the nation and it is time to build and strengthen Pakistan. He said that the nation has to put the country on the road to progress with a renewed passion and commitment. He said that the federal and provincial governments will have to lead by example and promote austerity and shun lavish lifestyle for gaining confidence of the people. He said that flood has also brought new opportunities and construction of model villages having all modern facilities in the flood-hit areas is one such example. Praising the role of philanthropists and welfare organizations in the relief and rehabilitation of flood affectees, he said that they .have set a good example of public service and selflessness. He was addressing a ceremony held in honour of donors, attended by a large number of local and foreign industrialists, traders, bankers, representatives of welfare organizations and philanthropists at Chief Ministers Secretariat. In addition to donations of Rs 65 million, philanthropists and representatives of welfare organizations announced to build 3,320 houses, 13 dispensaries and seven schools in the flood-hit areas. Planning and Development Chairman Javed Aslam, Punjab Investment Board Vice Chairman Rizwan Ahmad Khan and secretaries of various departments were also present. Addressing the ceremony, the Chief Minister said that the worst flood of the countrys history has caused large scale devastation in all the four provinces, affected 15 million people, damaged crops worth millions of rupees and washed away several villages. He said that the efforts being made by industrialists, bankers and traders for the progress of the country and creating employment opportunities are commendable but they have also shown their patriotic spirit by taking an active part in relief and rehabilitation of the flooded people. He said that floods have caused large-scale damage and there is a need for a strong will, commitment and vision besides resources to cope with the challenge of rehabilitation of the flood affectees. He said that it is time to utilise local resources instead of relying on foreign aid and take practical steps to adopt austerity. He said that other nations are saying that if the elite of the country did not take an active part in the efforts for the progress of the country and relief and rehabilitation of flood affectees, then do not expect anything from them. He said that some industries and government departments have outstanding utility bills worth billions of rupees and there is a need to ensure recovery of the dues to generate resources. He said that curbing of power theft and reformation of different departments, which are a burden on economy, can help save national resources. He said, 'It is time to take tough decisions for the development and progress of the country otherwise no friend or well-wisher would pay heed to our requests nor anyone will trust us if the governments did not set a personal example. The Chief Minister said that those areas of Punjab which were already poor and backward were hit by the flood. He said that flood deprived people of their belongings and he had been in the flood affected areas and witnessed their pain and sufferings. He said that extremism can spread in the affected areas if help and assistance was not extended to the distressed humanity and proper planning was not made for their rehabilitation. He said that the Punjab government is implementing a comprehensive programme for the rehabilitation of flood affected people. He said that model villages are being constructed with the cooperation of philanthropists and welfare organizations. He said that so far Rs1.3 billion has been donated to his flood relief fund and donations are still coming in. He said that transparent use of every penny of the people is being ensured. He said that model villages are being constructed with the cooperation of philanthropists and welfare organisations and not with the government funds. He said that friendly countries have helped in this testing time especially Saudi Arab, Turkey and US have actively taken part in the relief and rehabilitation of the flood affectees and donated generously. He said that rehabilitation of flood affectees is a difficult and lengthy process but this task will be accomplished very soon. Provincial Disaster Management Authority Director General Khalid Sher Dil gave a detailed briefing regarding flood losses, relief activities and construction of model villages. Chairman Resource Mobilization Committee and MNA Pervaiz Malik informed that philanthropists have taken part in the relief of flood affectees in an unprecedented way. He said that people as well as a leading international journal, The Economist, have praised the active participation of the Chief Minister in the relief and rehabilitation efforts for the flood affectees and transparent use of funds. Later, philanthropists, industrialists and traders gave their proposals regarding construction of model villages, schools and dispensaries.