Fund collection should be transparent: FinMinFinance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat has called for transparency in the collection of resources from individuals and institutions for the relief of earthquake victims.
Speaking at a local donor meeting on Friday, he lashed out at claims that the government mechanism was corrupt and inefficient. Mahat asked whether those collecting donations for relief purposes had got their financial transactions audited.
The minister said that those collecting donations in the name of relief should send details of the funds gathered and the activities conducted to the government. “The government has every right to know about them,” said Mahat.
Mahat admitted that the government system was inefficient but asserted that there was transparency. “The government system might be ineffective and there might have been lapses and inadequacies, but it is transparent and there are oversight agencies to look into the transactions done through it,” said Mahat.
Defending the government system and claiming it to be transparent, he stressed that the funds collected for relief and rehabilitation had not been spent on administrative purposes. “All the money is spent on the targeted victims and not a single penny is used as administrative costs,” said Mahat.
The government drew flak from all quarters after it asked donors, institutions and individuals to deposit their donations for quake victims in the Prime Minister’s Disaster Relief Fund.
Critics had raised questions about the government system, its inefficiency and possible misuse of funds.
Donors who have long been complaining about inefficiency in the government mechanism were reluctant to put the money and materials meant for relief and rescue under the government relief fund.
As a result, the government relief fund has received few contributions from large donors. Much of the contributions to the fund have come from the government’s own institutions. Donors have largely routed their resources for relief and rescue through non-governmental organisations.
After the government was widely criticized for adopting a “single window system” for relief distribution to quake victims at a time of crisis, it explained that it just wanted institutions and individuals that were not legally registered in Nepal before the earthquake to put the money collected in the government’s relief fund.
The finance minister also clarified that the government had not attempted to implement a single window system in relief distribution but wanted institutions and individuals to properly coordinate with local authorities such as the District Administration Office to avoid duplication of efforts and ensure uniform distribution of relief materials. “Unfortunately, there has been no coordination in all the cases,” said Mahat.