Print Edition - 2016-09-09  |  News

PM’s extra assistance promise hard to keep

  • reconstruction of homes
- Post Report, Kathmandu
There is a funding gap of Rs488 billion, excluding the Rs80 billion required to provide the additional Rs100,000 per household

Sep 9, 2016- Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal has pledged to provide Rs800,000 to each earthquake-affected household in reconstruction aid, including grant and concessional loans, without specifying the funding sources.

This comes at a time when the government is already struggling to fund the existing needs identified by the Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA). The additional Rs500,000 concessional loan plus an extra Rs100,000 grant to an estimated 800,0000 households would take the total price tag associated with private house reconstruction and livelihood to over six billion dollars against the around $8.3 billion required for overall reconstruction and recovery.
“This is a huge amount. The government does not have enough internal funding sources to distribute the additional housing aid but it is possible through external funding,” said Swarnim Wagle, a former member of the National Planning Commission who was also engaged in preparing the PDNA report after the Gorkha earthquake last year.
Addressing Parliament for the first time on Thursday after assuming office last month, Prime Minister Dahal promised to increase the reconstruction grant for each household from the existing Rs200,000 to Rs300,000 along with a loan up to Rs500,000 for the displaced families in 14 quake-affected districts.
“I am seriously concerned over the delay in reconstruction and recovery efforts after the earthquakes last year. The promised amount of Rs200,000 as reconstruction grant is inadequate to rebuild houses so I have decided to increase the funding to help the families in proper rebuilding,” PM Dahal said.
Out of the total 533,182 households identified as needy of the housing aid, 319,079 households (almost 75 percent) have received the first tranche until Thursday while 420,668 households have signed tripartite aid agreements.
Though there has been a positive effort in expediting the distribution of the first instalment amounting to Rs50,000 to the affected households recently, the government’s promise to increase the funding without preparations is a populist move, says Rabindra Adhikari, a CPN-UML lawmaker who chairs the Development Committee of Parliament. The House committee earlier this week summoned Prime Minister Dahal over the reconstruction delays.
“This is a populist promise. The government is already struggling to manage to fund the existing pledge of Rs200,000 to each household, promising additional fund without proper homework is meaningless,” Adhikari said. “The government is exploiting the sentiment of the poor families by promising things it cannot deliver.”
According to the PDNA document, of the total of Rs838 billion estimated to be required over five years to carry out recovery projects, only Rs350 billion has been assured by the international donors and development partners. There is a funding gap of Rs488 billion, excluding the Rs80 billion required to provide the additional Rs100,000 per household.
“This high-level decision needs some policy-level changes. The government will work to materialise it,” said Lal Babu Khatri, an under-secretary at the Finance Ministry.

Published: 09-09-2016 08:26

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