PM for exploring int'l sources to increase grant amount for quake victims

Published On: September 5, 2016 12:50 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Sept 5: Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal has intensified his efforts to manage financial resources for increasing the house reconstruction grants for the earthquake victims from Rs 200,000 to Rs 300,000 for each household.

Officials at the Prime Minister's Secretariat said that Dahal is making preparations to hold talks with donors and seek the needed financial resources for arranging additional Rs 100,000 for reconstruction of the damaged houses by earthquakes last year.

“The prime minister is for increasing the grant amount to Rs 300,000 but the government alone cannot manage the money from its internal resources. So, the prime minister is making preparations to hold talks with donors,” said Ramesh Malla, personal secretary of Prime Minister Dahal.

He said that the prime minister may also talk with India during his upcoming visit to the southern neighbor for financial support in order to increase the grant amount.

According to the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers, the government will need additional Rs 80 billion if it is to increase the grant amount to Rs 300,000. The existing government decision is to provide Rs 200,000 as grant to rebuild the houses destroyed by the disaster.

The prime minister decided to explore resources from international donors after the Ministry of Finance said that the government cannot manage the amount from its internal resources.

“Apart from that, the prime minister is also planning to hold talks with Indian side during his visit for seeking financial support for increasing the grant amount. And, as of now, the Indian side is also positive on this matter,” said Malla.

However, Minister for Foreign Affairs Prakash Sharan Mahat said that since the Indian side has already pledged US$ 1 billion as grant and another US $1 billion in-line credit, it may not be appropriate to seek additional financial support from India.

“So, we are yet to decide whether to ask the Indian side for financial support or not during the prime minister's visit,” Mahat said. On Sunday, Prime Minister Dahal held a meeting with various ministers and secretaries to discuss possible agendas during his India visit, which is reportedly scheduled for September 15.

As many as 533,454 house owners in 11 districts have been identified as eligible for receiving the house reconstruction grant. While the survey in the three districts - Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur-- is underway for identifying the quake victims eligible for the grant amount, similar survey is yet to begin in other 17 districts. And the OPMCM estimates that the number of total victims eligible for the grant amount may cross over 800,000.

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