Karnali government’s programmes prove too ambitiousLack of clarity, miscommunication, geographical remoteness and poor internet penetration are some of the reasons for the programs’ failure.
Since its formation in 2017, the Karnali provincial government has launched several ambitious programmes for the upliftment of the province.
Some of its promising programmes are ‘Bank Account for Daughters, for Secure Life’, ‘Lighting up Karnali’, ‘Chief Minister Employment’ and ‘Integrated Settlement Development’ programmes. However, the success of these programmes is negligible at best.
Launched in the fiscal year 2019/20, Bank Account for Daughters, for Secure Life—which is aimed at controlling child marriage and providing financial security to girls when they grow up–has failed to take off successfully in rural areas mainly because of the absence of financial institutions in geographically remote villages.
Since the programme’s launch, as many as 53 applications have been filed at Sarkegad Rural Municipality of Humla, a remote district of Karnali Province, to open bank accounts for girls under the programme. But the amount is yet to be deposited in the recipients’ bank accounts.
The local unit says the first year after the programme’s launch was not fruitful because of a lack of clarity in its working guidelines.
“Then the coronavirus pandemic put a stop to everything during the second year of the programme’s launch. We received applications quite late last year due to the lockdown,” said Parbati Rokaya, chief of the women and children unit at the rural municipality.
“The provincial government released Rs 400,000 for the programme in the last fiscal year. We plan to deposit the amount in the bank accounts of as many beneficiaries as possible this year,” said Rokaya.
According to Rokaya, the private bank they have commissioned for the programme takes four to five months to open the accounts for beneficiaries, which is another reason for the delay in the distribution of funds under the ‘Bank Account for Daughters, for Secure Life’ programme.
“There is a lack of communication with the banks. Despite our repeated requests, the bank employees do not send us the account details of the beneficiaries, which are necessary for us to transfer the amount,” said Rokaya. “We have still not received the bank account details of about half of the applicants.”
According to the working guideline of the programme, parents should file an application with the local unit to open a bank account for their daughters within 45 days of their birth. Soon after opening a new account, the provincial government deposits Rs 1,000, after which Rs 500 is deposited in the account each month until she reaches 20 years of age. The account holder won’t receive the amount if she marries before she reaches 20 or if she discontinues her studies before completing her secondary level.
However, the deposited amount can be withdrawn before the maturity period, according to the ministry, if the account holder dies or becomes disabled or unable to continue studies after the deaths of her parents due to financial constraints.
Like Sarkegad of Humla, other local units in the province have also failed to bear successful results for the ‘Bank Account for Daughters, for Secure Life’ programme.
Chhedegada Municipality in Jajarkot district received 19 applications for the programme but they are yet to be accepted for technical reasons.
“The applications are left unattended since they were filed at the municipal office after 45 days of the girls’ births last year,” said Amrita Chand, an officer at the social security unit of the municipality.
“We informed the Social Development Ministry about the issue and waited for instructions on how to address the problem but so far we haven’t been able to resolve the issue,” said Chand.
According to the stakeholders, the ‘Bank Account for Daughter, for Secure Life’ programme could not be effective due to multiple factors like geographical remoteness of the villages, absence of banks, poor internet connection and a lack of awareness among the beneficiaries’ guardians and the local units.
According to the Ministry of Social Development, the bank accounts of about 13,814 girls have been opened under the programme as of now–7,299 bank accounts were opened in the fiscal year 2019/20 and 6,228 in the fiscal year 2020/21.
According to Debi Subedi, an officer at the ministry, out of 79 local units in Karnali, the programme is yet to be implemented in nine local bodies due to geographical remoteness and an absence of financial institutions in the area.
“Seven other local units have not submitted last fiscal year’s report on the programme,” said Subedi.
The ministry allocated Rs 38.4 million for the ‘Bank Account for Daughters, for Secure Life’ programme in the fiscal year 2019/20 but only Rs 26.7 million of the budget was spent, according to the ministry.
Likewise, the ‘Chief Minister Employment’ programme, launched in the fiscal year 2019/20 with the objective of providing employment to 1,260,000 people in Karnali Province, has not been able to make a mark.
The provincial government released Rs 800 million to all 79 local units for the programme the same year. But only 740 million of the allocated budget was spent.
Similarly, a total of Rs 4.76 billion budget was issued for the programme in the fiscal year 2020/21 but only Rs 3.89 billion was spent.
Despite the spending, the provincial government does not have any data on exactly how many people across the local units got employment under the programme.
“We do not have the data on employment generation through the ‘Chief Minister Employment’ programme,” said Keshav Raj Upadhyay, the spokesperson at the Office of the Chief Minister and Council of Ministers in Karnali. “We send the budget to the local units and their infrastructure development office in each district. But we have not received any concrete data on how many people got employment opportunities under the programme.”
According to him, Rs 1.49 billion has been issued for the programme in the current fiscal year.
‘Lighting up Karnali’, another ambitious programme launched in the province, has also not been able to deliver results.
The Office of the Chief Minister and Council of Ministers and the Alternative Energy Promotion Centre had signed an agreement in January 2020 to supply electricity to every household in Karnali. The agreement had envisaged the completion of 19 mini-and micro-hydropower projects that were left incomplete due to financial and technical glitches.
But despite injecting Rs 1.09 billion into the programme in the last three fiscal years, most of the hydro projects are still incomplete.
“As per the agreement, the Alternative Energy Promotion Centre should provide technical manpower for the project but it has not yet mobilised its technicians,” said Upadhyay, the spokesperson at the Office of the Chief Minister and Council of Ministers in Karnali. “So far, only 21 percent of the total budget has been spent.”
Meanwhile, Dipendra Rokaya, the former member of the Planning Commission of Karnali Province, attributes the ineffectiveness of Karnali’s major programmes to various reasons.
“Delay in formulating and dispatching the working guidelines, a lack of clarity in the guidelines and geographical remoteness are to name a few,” Rokaya said.