Karnali Province also rolls out employment programmeThe Chief Minister Employment Programme aims to create jobs within the province just like the federal government’s scheme.
This fiscal year, the Prime Minister Employment Programme is finally going into implementation only in the eighth month. The enforcement of the much talked about employment programme, which aims to provide a minimum of 100 days of waged work to unemployed citizens, has been possible after the government disbursed budget to the local level.
The national-level government scheme aims to provide 100 days of work, as envisaged by the programme, to nearly 60,000 registered citizens in this fiscal year. While the federal government has moved ahead with implementing the employment programme, Karnali Province has also come up with a similar employment scheme.
The Chief Minister Employment Programme (CMEP), endorsed by the Karnali provincial government, also aims to create jobs within the province just like the federal government’s scheme.
The simultaneous implementation of similar schemes at the local level is likely to create confusion among enforcing agencies and duplication, government officials fear.
The national-level Prime Minister Employment Programme (PMEP) will be enforced in all the 753 local federal units, including 79 municipalities and rural municipalities of Karnali Province where the Provincial government would also be executing its own Chief Minister Employment Programme.
“We don’t know how they have designed a similar programme and how they will be implementing the scheme at their local level,” said Ram Chandra Dhakal, joint-secretary at the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security, the agency chiefly responsible for enforcing the PM’s employment programme. “There is a chance of duplication of the same group of workers getting the work opportunity through both programmes whereas others, who need it the most, might be outside the coverage of these employment schemes.”
The Karnali Province has allocated Rs900 million for the employment programme in this year’s budget. A major portion of the money will be spent on making payments to registered citizens. Local governments of the province will get their share of the budget soon.
So far, project proposals from 30 local administrations for implementing the Chief Minister Employment Programme have been approved, according to Laxmi Kumari Basnet, secretary at the Karnali Office of the Chief Minister and Council of Ministers.
“We had sought project proposals from the local councils that want to implement this programme. Working procedures have also been drafted for its operation,” said Basnet. “The main priority of the programme is to create employment and reduce the use of machinery so that a bigger labour force can be mobilised.”
However, the provincial government is not clear on how many people will be employed and for how long. Also, the provincial government has no data on unemployed citizens.
According to Suman Ghimire, a spokesperson for the Labour Ministry, the provincial and local governments can come up with similar programmes of employment generation as it is also their responsibility.
“Karnali Province has a higher rate of unemployment so the provincial government might have introduced a similar programme,” said Ghimire. “Both federal and provincial programmes will be implemented in the same local units. Employment opportunities should go to ultra-poor groups and avoid duplications.”
According to Ghimire, the Karnali government had requested access to the Employment Management Information System, the government database of registered unemployed citizens.
The Karnali government official said the possibility of duplication would be minimum as the employment coordinator who oversees the PM’s Employment Programme at the local level, would be also managing the provincial programme.
But Dhakal, who is also the chief of the PM’s employment scheme, said provincial and federal governments could rather have coordinated for implementation of the national-level programme.
“We are yet to see how local governments will enforce the CMEP while the Prime Minister Employment Programme is compulsory for all of them,” said Dhakal. “They could have integrated their schemes. The PMEP and CMEP both could have provided 50 days of work each as there is a large number of unemployed citizens.”
According to the Labour Ministry, over 1.3 million persons of working age have registered for accessing paid work under the PMEP this fiscal year.
Besides relying on employment coordinators, the Karnali administration is also counting on the national database maintained by the Labour Ministry so that beneficiaries are not repeated in the schemes.
“Local governments will care to avoid the misuse of funds and other discrepancies. Access to the database will help reduce duplications. No one should be left out or repeated,” said Basnet, the Karnali secretary.
“We had to introduce this scheme at the provincial level to further create employment opportunities for the people where poverty is high.”