Spending Rs74 billion this fiscal ‘unlikely’

  • post-quake reconstruction

Dec 9, 2015-

The government might not be able to spend Rs74 billion, the total budget allocated for the reconstruction programmes this fiscal year, as the National Planning Commission (NPC) has demanded programmes worth just Rs49 billion from various ministries. The commission has been authorised to look over post-quake rebuilding works until the formation of reconstruction authority.

The government has allocated Rs74 billion to be spent through the reconstruction authority whose formation remains uncertain.  

The Finance Ministry has said it has provided an extra Rs 6 billion to Prime Minister Disaster Relief Fund to purchase warm clothes for the April 25 earthquake victims at the rate of Rs10,000 per family. This would still leave Rs19 billion of budget planned to be spent through the authority idle.

NPC Vice-chairman Yubaraj Khatiwada said that they had asked the ministries to submit programmes for two-thirds of the total allocated budget meant for the authority, holding the rest to be mobilised by the authority after its formation.

However, the fate of the authority hangs in balance due to differences between the ruling CPN-UML and the main opposition Nepali Congress over the reconstruction bill. The NC wants to continue with the appointments it had made through a provision in the new bill by the then government under Sushil Koirala but the UML remains opposed to the idea.

“The delay in authority’s formation has increased fears that the remaining budget won’t be utilised,” said a Finance Ministry official. Even the NPC has doubts about the ministries’ ability to spend Rs49 billion in construction programmes. “As construction materials are in short supply, spending two-thirds of the budget will be a big challenge,” said Khatiwada.

Former NPC vice-chairman Govind Raj Pokhrel, who briefly worked as chief executive of the now defunct authority, said that the normal process of programme approvals from the NPC would not yield any significant results in the reconstruction process.

“Had the usual budget approval process been enough for the reconstruction project, such an authority would not have been envisioned in the first place,” he said, calling on the political parties to put aside their differences and show urgency in forming the authority.

Donors, who have committed Rs57 billion of the total Rs74 billion fund, have been concerned over the delay in formation of the authority.

House panel orders govt to pass bill soon

KATHMANDU: The Parliamentary Social Justice and Human Rights Committee on Tuesday directed the government to make efforts for an early endorsement of the reconstruction bill.

The bill has been in limbo due to differences between the ruling CPN-UML and the main opposition Nepali Congress over the choice of officials in the authority through the new Act. The house committee has also asked the government to provide Rs5,000 and Rs15,000 to the families of earthquake victims who have been deprived of the state benefit. The government has also been ordered to clarify whether Rs10,000 to be distributed to the quake victims to purchase warm clothes would be deducted from planned grant of Rs200,000 promised to each affected family. In the White Paper, the government has announced that it would provide  Rs 10,000 each to the family of quake victims. NPC Vice-Chairman Yubaraj Khatiwada said it would be based on a Cabinet decision. The committee also asked the government to clarify whether beneficiaries of Rs200,000 grant would get subsidised loans to rebuild damaged houses.

Published: 09-12-2015 08:55

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