Unused budgets can yield ‘Rs5b’ for relief

- PRITHVI MAN SHRESTHA, Kathmandu
Unused budgets can yield ‘Rs5b’ for relief

May 10, 2015-

The government can put together another Rs5 billion to spend on earthquake relief and rehabilitation from the surplus money with different ministries, the Finance Ministry said.

The Finance Ministry had asked the ministries to provide details of any funds that might be remaining unused with them so that they can be used to improve the conditions of people hit by the massive earthquake of April 25.

“The Education, Health and Finance ministries were found to have surplus budgets of around Rs4 billion,” a senior official of the Finance Ministry said. “The Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development has a surplus budget of around Rs1 billion excluding the amount issued as grant to local bodies.” This money is what remains after slashing some budgetary allocations under the heading of recurrent expenditure.

The Finance Ministry has released Rs4 billion as Earthquake Relief Fund. This amount was issued from the contingency fund heading. It said that the resources allocated under disaster relief had already been used up due to natural calamities like the landslide at Jure in Sindhupalchok which dammed the Sunkoshi River and killed a number of people.

“As we don’t have any money under the contingency fund, we can arrange additional resources only from the savings of different ministries,” said the official.

The government has not yet dropped any development programme in order to generate resources. It has announced a number of programmes for quake victims including cash gifts of up to Rs200,000 per family to rebuild their destroyed houses. According to the Home Ministry, 288,798 houses were completely destroyed while 254,112 houses were partially damaged.

According to the Finance Ministry official, the government will have to drop priority 2 and priority 3 projects if these costly announcements are implemented during this fiscal year. There are 339 priority 1 projects, 130 priority 2 projects and 22 priority 3 projects. Priority 1 projects have been allocated a budget of Rs527.36 billion out of the total budget of Rs618 billion for this fiscal year. The rest of the money has been set aside for priority 2 and 3 projects.

Finance Secretary Suman Sharma said that his ministry had asked other ministries to identify projects which they could skip this year.

The government has not been able to collect enough money from donors for its relief fund, and it has been trying to generate as much resources as possible from its own budget. Donors have been reluctant to deposit money in the government’s relief fund because they doubt the effectiveness of its mechanism to spend it.

Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat had hinted at a press meet on Wednesday that the government could restructure the budget to generate resources for the rehabilitation and rebuilding process.

Published: 11-05-2015 08:18

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