India, China indicate huge aid pledges

  • - Together, the two neighbours ‘promise Rs 160m’ - Substantive commitments also from other major donors US, EU, Japan
- ANIL GIRI, PRITHVI MAN SHRESTHA, Kathmandu
India, China indicate huge aid pledges

Jun 24, 2015-

Nepal is expected to receive a major boost from India and China at the International Conference on Nepal’s Reconstruction-2015 on Thursday, with the two immediate neighbours indicating substantive aid pledges for its reconstruction efforts after the devastating April 25 earthquake and its aftershocks.

The highest-profile international donor conference ever held in the country has drawn more than 300 delegates from 60 nations, development partners and donor community.  

Immediately after their arrival, Indian Minister for Foreign Affairs Sushma Swaraj and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi held separate meetings with Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, where they pledged substantive assistance to Nepal.

Sources privy to the development told the Post that India is likely to announce $1 billion in assistance that includes both grant and soft loan for Nepal’s reconstruction efforts. “Of the total Indian assistance, Rs 40 billion will come as grant and Rs 60 billion as soft loan,” said a senior official at Prime Minister’s Office.

Similarly, China is likely to commit Rs 60 billion in the form of grant and soft loan. The government has sought Chinese assistance for rebuilding of the roads connecting Kathmandu to Rasuwagadhi and Tatopani, which were badly damaged by the earthquake, besides rebuilding houses in rural areas.   

 The Indian side has yet to indicate its contribution in particular sectors, but officials said that India is willing to rebuild one of the heritage sites in Kathmandu.

The US, the EU and Japan are the other major donors likely to announce huge assistance pledge during the International Conference on Nepal’s Reconstruction on Thursday, according to PMO officials. “The US has promised to provide $130 million and the EU is likely to pledge $100-150 million,” said an official. The Post-Disaster Needs Assessment estimates that $7 billion will be needed for reconstruction. Ministers and senior government officials state that they hope to receive pledges of around $3 billion at the conference.

Although Japan has remained tight lipped about its pledge, sources said Japanese assistance could be in the range of $300-400 million. These pledges are new commitments from the donors and development partners for Nepal’s reconstruction bid.

The two multilateral donors-World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB)-have already pledged $500million and $200million for Nepal’s reconstruction and rehabilitation projects. The ADB has expressed interest in the education sector, reconstruction of government buildings and rural roads, while the World Bank will be focusing on rural housing and settlements.

Though the donors have shown willingness to help Nepal recover from the disaster, they are quite apprehensive about the government’s ability to use the pledged money efficiently.

Finance Ministry officials have, however, said the government will assure the donors that the aid money would be mobilised transparently through the prime minister-led National Reconstruction Authority set up this week through an ordinance.

While the government expects to channelise much of the aid money through the National Reconstruction Fund, the donors will also be allowed to channelise aid through I/NGOs as long as they coordinate with the government, the officials said. “We have adopted one-door policy with multiple windows,” said Finance Secretary Suman Sharma.

Govinda Raj Pokharel, vice-chairman of the National Planning Commission, is more forthcoming in a bid to clear any mistrust between the government and donors. “As mentioned in the ordinance, the government will include donors as observers to monitor the works of Reconstruction Authority,” Pokharel said. Bangladeshi Finance Minister Abdulmaal A Muth, Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende and Japanese State Minister for Foreign Affairs Hinoru Kiuchi also met PM Koirala on Wednesday.

Thanking them for the help they extended to Nepal in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, Koirala said reconstruction works and the constitution writing will go ahead simultaneously. “I am confident that we will be successful on the both fronts,” he said.

 

Published: 25-06-2015 08:13

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