August 1, 2016 02:00 AM NPT
KATHMANDU, Aug 1: The grant distribution process in 11 worst earthquake-hit districts, which was already moving at a snail's pace, has been halted for the last 10 days, further delaying the reconstruction work.
Officials at the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) said that the delay by the Ministry of Finance to give budget authorization to the authority for the new fiscal year 2016-17 led to the halting of the grant distribution process. The new fiscal year began from mid-July.
From July 21, the local bodies have neither signed agreements for the grant amount of Rs 200,000 with the eligible quake victims for the first installment nor released the first installment to the quake victims who have already signed the grant agreement. The victims whose houses were completed damaged by the earthquakes are entitled to get the grant assistance.
“We should have been expediting the grant distribution process but instead the process has been delayed. It has come to a halt since the last 10 days. And it was primarily due to the delay by the Ministry of Finance to give budget authorization to the authority,” said Bhishma Kumar Bhusal, deputy spokesperson of the NRA.
As a result, the process of signing agreements has been stuck to 275,477 households. The government has identified a total 533,155 households as eligible for receiving the grant amount in the 11 districts. Likewise, even among the 275, 477 households that have signed the agreement with the NRA, only 39,702 of them have received the first tranche to start the reconstruction of their houses, which is only around 7.5 per cent of the total eligible victims.
Officials at the NRA said that the grant distribution has been halted as the Ministry of Finance sent the budget authorization to the NRA through the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers (OPMCM).
“We already had the details about the budget allocation and all other information. But the finance ministry sent the budget authorization through the OPMCM, had no details about the budget allocation of NRA and it took the OPMCM officials more than a week to give us budget authorization,” said Bhusal.
Had the Ministry of Finance forwarded the budget authorization to the NRA directly, the grant distribution work would not have been halted for more than two to three days, according to Bhusal.
The Ministry of Finance had sent the budget authorization for NRA to the OPMCM on July 15.
“We received the budget authorization last Thursday. As we got it, we forwarded it to the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development, which is carrying out the grant distribution process on behalf of the NRA. We hope that the halted grant distribution will resume within next two to three days,” Bhusal said.