Thoughts on using the money

  • international conference on nepal’s reconstruction
- POST REPORT, Kathmandu
Thoughts on using the money

Jun 25, 2015-

The much-hyped International Conference on Nepal’s Reconstruction concluded here on Thursday with the donor community pledging more than $4.4 billion in aid for the country’s recovery bid. Nepal faces considerable obstacles to attaining stability and growth. The Post-Disaster Needs Assessment report has pointed out that Nepal needs $6.66 billion to rebuild the infrastructure destroyed by the terrible earthquake on April 25 and subsequent aftershocks. In this scenario, there is a need to revise the national development strategy towards reducing poverty, decreasing vulnerability to natural disasters and paving the way for sustained economic growth. The Kathmandu Post talked with a number of experts regarding effective and transparent mobilization of the funds to fulfil the people’s aspiration and put the economy back on its feet.

Dipendra Bahadur Kshetry

Former vice-chairman, NPC

It is indeed a positive indication that donors have pledged a larger amount of financial support than the government had expected. Nepal will be filled with financial resources, but more important is the implementation side—to rebuild the nation in a new modality. However, in the context of the government’s capacity to utilise the capital budget—which is around 40 percent annually—the implementation side may not be up to the mark. In recent years, the government has failed to reimburse a large amount of money from donor-funded projects.

The lobbying for the formation of a new government after the earthquake could also impede the effective mobilization of the donor-pledged funds in the targeted areas. Since political party leaders, as usual, have influence in the bureaucracy, the formation of a government mechanism to mobilise the funds too will be greatly influenced by a few leaders. If these things continue, there is a risk of not getting the pledged amount from the donors.

As the government has asked the benefactors to provide the funds under a budgetary model, they doubt whether Nepal will use the money properly. The development partners have raised concerns about the accountability and transparency of the resources. Besides, we should also be serious about which modality the donors are comfortable with to provide the promised funding.

Bishwamber Pyakurel

Senior Economist

The physical presence and the video messages from the world arena at the conference underscores the international community’s highest level of common desire for Nepal’s development and strong willingness to cooperate. The participants expressed their wish to develop Nepal together.

This is good in a sense that Nepal will have a big flow of liquidity. However, in the context of Nepal’s not being able to spend its annual development budget, if it fails to mobilize the flow of cash provided by the donors into productive sectors, it could be counter-productive as it has happened in many countries affected by disasters. Hence, there is a need for proper and effective coordination between the National Planning Commission and the Finance Ministry to ensure their right approach in the elaboration of policies for sustainable development.

The formation of the high-level National Reconstruction Authority is indeed a good idea; however, there is a need to revisit some of the issues like the institutional system, regulatory measures and good governance, given the unstable political scenario and frequent changes in government.

If these few things are revisited, we can show the international community that Nepal is capable of dealing with any kind of situation.

   

Binod Chaudhary

Chairman, CG

The donor conference can be considered a milestone in Nepal’s recovery and reconstruction of age-old infrastructure. With the pledged amount, we can not only renovate the damaged buildings but also upgrade the infrastructure with a new vision in order to meet the challenges of the 21st century. The country’s infrastructure constructed in the past decades are not relevant in the present context. We also have an opportunity to augment the infrastructure with a much larger master plan to lead the country to a new level. However, with the existing bureaucratic setup, we cannot expect that the funds will be mobilized in an effective manner. But we should also change our mindset that everything should be done by the government. The private sector could be a key factor in delivering results and it should be involved in utilising the resources.

Shankar Sharma

Former Ambassador to the US

The pledged amount is more than what the government had expected. Although it is the combined amount that Nepal has been receiving from the donors regularly, it is sufficient to rebuild damaged infrastructure and address rural areas, if it is mobilised properly. But the amount will not be sufficient to build mega infrastructure that people have anticipated. We have to first chart a plan to utilise the funds under the “build-back-better” model. Unlike in the past, the government’s commitment has appeared differently in the post-disaster scenario and it is a positive indication that we can meet the envisaged target. However, poor accessibility, mainly in the rural areas, and failure to garner political consensus are still the main challenges. Reconstruction in urban and rural areas should be addressed by devising separate regulations. Whether we get all the pledged amount depends on our working capability. If we prove ourselves to convince donors, they could provide the committed amount in a short period. We should be hopeful this time as the three major sides—donors, politicians and experts—have shown their willingness to rebuild a better Nepal. This could address accountability and deliverance of the funds for good deeds.

Surendra Pandey

Former Finance Minister

The donors have committed phase-wise allocation of financial resources on Thursday’s conference to fill the funding gap for Nepal’s recovery plan. In this context, the government needs to formulate plan and projects. For this, the government should expedite the process of preparing the plan as soon as possible that should also reflect its priority areas. The major hitches for Nepal in the rebuilding process I see is the shortage of manpower and machinery instruments. We do not have enough technicians  and some 1,000 engineers and experts are needed. In the second phase, the government should prepare a chart to spend the funds and implement the projects. It should make sure the project scope is something that can be completed and is specific. A system is required to monitor and control the projects’ progress to ensure success.

Basant Raj Mishra

Secretary, PATA

The donor conference has indeed disseminated a positive message in the international arena at a time when Nepal’s image has been badly tarnished as being unsafe to visit after the earthquake. Officials from around the world have observed Nepal and visited some of the tourism sites.

In fact, the donor conference was not only about fund pledges, but it also changed the perception of the global community towards Nepal. We believe the conference will encourage countries to lift their travel restrictions on Nepal.

The government might be putting the tourism industry on its priority list after the donor’s meet. The infrastructure will not be developed as the private sector has expected, but whatever is built, we expect it would be good enough.

Published: 26-06-2015 08:02

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