Less than 14pc pledge accessed from donorsGovernment has failed to access much of the money pledged by donors for post-earthquake rebuilding, while also struggling to spend its own budget.
As two major parties CPN-UML and Nepali Congress bicker over the formation of the National Reconstruction Authority, the government has failed to access much of the money pledged by donors for post-earthquake rebuilding, while also struggling to spend its own budget.
Five months after the International Conference on Nepal’s Reconstruction, where $4.1 billion (around Rs410 billion) was pledged in reconstruction aid, the government has signed agreements worth $560 million, which is merely 13.65 percent of the total sum.
The Finance Ministry said it has signed deals with the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and the International Monetary Fund so far. But no agreement has been signed with bilateral donors. Among them, immediate neighbours India and China had pledged the largest amount—$1 billion and $760 million respectively—to aid Nepal’s rebuilding efforts.
Government officials said the delay in forming the Reconstruction Authority (NRA) was the deterrent but there is no clarity on how the funds will be utilised.
With differences surfacing between the ruling UML and the opposition NC over the appointment of the NRA CEO, the formation of the Authority has been uncertain. In the local donors’ meeting on Wednesday, development partners expressed concerns at the government’s inability to initiate reconstruction works.
They were particularly worried about the plight of earthquake survivors as the winter grips devastated villages.According to the Finance Ministry, despite allocating Rs91 billion for reconstruction in the current fiscal budget, there has been little progress in rebuilding spending. Only Rs17 billion has been approved for specific projects.
“The Rs74 billion to be channelised through the Reconstruction Authority remains idle,” said Baikuntha Aryal, chief of the budget division at the Finance Ministry.
The budget has already been allocated to the concerned ministries. The National Planning Commission confirmed that Rs17 billion of the rebuilding budget had been approved so far. “The budget to be spent through the Authority has not been allocated to any ministry,” said Yubaraj Khatiwada, vice-chairman of the NPC, which has recently been authorised to look after reconstruction projects until the NRA is set up.
Four months after the commencement of the current fiscal, the Cabinet has asked the NPC to allocate the budget to be spent through the Authority to the concerned ministries, approve their programmes and monitor their implementation.
“We will prepare the policy and plans, and monitor works but real implementation will be carried out by the ministries themselves,’ said Khatiwada. The NPC said it has asked ministers to produce a detailed plan before funds are disbursed. The NPC, with the reconstruction responsibility, is also coordinating with donors in their areas of work. “We are currently working as the nodal point to coordinate the development partners’ activities so that there is no duplication,” he added.
Meanwhile, the NPC said it was close to distributing the Rs200,000 grant for reconstruction of private homes. The NPC is set to transfer the whole budget under the heading to the Ministry of Local Development within a week.
The grant will be distributed to the affected families through the District Disaster Relief Committee (DDRC) within three weeks. The government had handed out Rs15,000 to the homeless families as an immediate relief measure. The DDRC has the details of the recipients of the grant.
“As per the government’s decision, we have started the process to transfer the sum to the ministries,” said Khatiwada.
Urgent task done little
- Government avails of only 13.65 percent of the total reconstruction aid pledged by donors
- Finance Ministry signed agreement worth $560 million with World Bank, ADB and IMF for rebuilding
- No deal signed with bilateral donors including India and China
- Only Rs17 billion of the Rs91 billion budgetary allocation approved
- Rs74 billion to be channelised through Reconstruction Authority remains idle at Finance Ministry