Poor families yet to get one-time grant of Rs10,000Those receiving the government incentive must be willing to work voluntarily in the future under the Prime Minister Self Employment Programme.
Brindawan Municipality in Rautahat has received recommendations from its wards for providing a one time cash grant of Rs10,000 to around 2,000 households under a federal government scheme.
Through the revised budget presented on September 10, the newly formed government led by Sher Bahadur Deuba had announced a cash grant of Rs10,000 each to 500,000 poor households that lost employment and livelihoods to the Covid-19 pandemic.
As per the ‘Working Procedure on Distribution of Cash Grant to Covid-19-affected Extremely Poor Families’ introduced in early November last year, the local governments are responsible for distribution of the cash, which they receive as a conditional grant from the central government.
The federal government has set the beneficiary quota at 1,105 households for Brindawan Municipality, as per the working procedure.
“As we have received more recommendations than the quota set for the municipality, we have to perform triage on the recommendations,” said Nagendra Raya Yadav, chief administrative officer at the municipality. “We are discussing with the health offices of wards to verify whether the recommended names fall under the standards set in the working procedure.”
He said that it could still take at least two weeks before the municipality starts distributing the cash to the target households.
As per the working procedure, workers from the unorganised sector who lost their jobs to the pandemic and haven’t got new jobs and the extremely poor street vendors are eligible for the government succour.
Daily wage workers, farm labourers, rickshaw pullers, public transport workers, and the families that lost their sole breadwinners to the pandemic are also eligible.
Those receiving the government incentive must be willing to work voluntarily in the future under the Prime Minister Self Employment Programme.
Even though the federal government’s plan was to distribute the cash grant before the Dashain festival in October last year, it appears that most of them have yet to receive the grant with many local governments reporting they have not started the cash distribution.
Dhulikhel Municipality is another local government which has just started collecting applications from the wards. “Some of the political events including general conventions of major parties affected the work,” said Ashok Kumar Byanju Shrestha, mayor of the municipality. This municipality is authorised to provide the cash grant to 335 households under its jurisdiction.
Mukhiyapatti Musaharniya Rural Municipality in Dhanusha has received recommendations for providing the grant to 500 households although the quota allotted for the municipality is 720 households. “It means all of them are likely to receive the cash grant,” said Satya Narayan Sah, chief administrative officer at the municipality. “It may take some time to distribute the cash.”
Bharatpur Metropolitan City also has not yet distributed the cash grant. It has collected applications based on the recommendation of its wards. “We have received applications from around 5,500 households and we need to verify them whether they are genuine,” said Ram Bandhu Subedi, chief administrative officer at the metropolis. The metropolitan city has been allotted the quota of 3,370 poor families.
“A committee headed by the deputy mayor has been scheduled to meet on Monday to select the beneficiaries,” said Subedi. “I think cash distribution will begin in 10-15 days.”
Cash grant distribution was held up as the federal government delayed the working procedure, which was introduced on November 1, just ahead of the Tihar festival.
As per the procedure, local governments had been given two weeks to collect applications. They could take certain days to select beneficiaries from among the applicants. It has been more than two months since the working procedure was introduced, but most local governments are yet to distribute cash.
Byanju, who is also the president of the Municipal Association of Nepal, said he has no knowledge of any municipality distributing the cash grant until now. “As far as I know, no local government in Kavrepalanchok district has distributed this cash grant until now. I am not sure if other municipalities have distributed this cash grant,” he added.
But, according to a senior finance ministry official, certain local governments have started distributing the cash. “We have been notified that about one third of local governments have started distributing the cash grant,” said Ritesh Shakya, spokesperson for the ministry.
According to him, some of the local governments have abandoned the implementation of schemes arguing that they are not aware of it.
“We are suspecting that some of the local governments are reluctant to implement the scheme due to political reasons,” he added. “We are discussing what to do regarding the budget allocated to the local government which is reluctant to implement the scheme.”