WB brings housing aid deal home to govtReiterates grant in three tranches after achieving ‘defined milestones’
A day after Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli informed Parliament that the government was ready to release housing aid in two tranches, instead of three, the World Bank on Thursday wrote to the government, reminding it of the “principles agreed to at the International Conference on Nepal’s Reconstruction (ICNR 2015) between the Government of Nepal and development partners with regard to support for the Rural Housing Reconstruction Programme.”
Following week-long House obstruction by the Nepali Congress, which had been demanding that the government release the housing grant of Rs 200,000 in one go instead of three tranches, the ruling and the opposition parties on Wednesday had reached a deal as per which “the government will commit to releasing the housing grant in two tranches and the main opposition will let the House resume its business”.
In the letter sent to Minister for Finance Bishnu Poudel and CCed to major donors, World Bank Country Manager Takuya Kamata has reiterated four key principles of the agreement reached between the government and donors—equity, ownership, safer construction and transparency and accountability. “These principles are based on global best practices in the post-disaster reconstruction and are designed to ensure that eligible beneficiaries receive and utilise reconstruction grants for intended purposes, and funds are disbursed against third party verification after milestones are achieved,” reads the letter.
The letter has emphasised on disbursing the Rs 200,009 grant in three tranches of Rs 50,000, Rs 80,000 and Rs 70,000 respectively following the completion of the “defined milestones”. “Each payment will be subject to certification by competent technical personnel in order to ensure that the grants are used to build houses according to safer standards, using local materials and enhanced traditional construction techniques,” adds the letter.
The letter has explicitly stated that the World Bank “is only authorised to provide financial programme following these modalities.” The Japan International Cooperation Agency, the United States Agency for International Development, Switzerland and Canada would observe the same process, the letter has outlined.
“This will be important for the government’s efforts to mobilise additional resources to close the substantial financing gap,” adds the letter.