Officials optimistic about early release of Indian reconstruction aid

Published On: May 14, 2018 07:28 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, May 14: Following Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to Nepal, government officials have expressed optimism about the Indian side making necessary efforts to speed up the release of the grant and loan pledged by India after the 2015 earthquakes in Nepal.  
During the bilateral meeting with the delegation of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday, the Nepali side led by Prime Minister KP Oli had requested the Indian side to simplify the procedures for a speedy release of the grant and loan pledged by the Indian government after the earthquakes in 2015, among many requests made by the Nepali side. 

“One among many issues discussed with the Indian delegation in the meeting was the speedy release of the post-earthquake reconstruction grant and soft loan pledged by India. Indian Prime Minister Modi has responded positively to the request. Let’s be hopeful the aid will be released at the earliest,” said a highly-positioned official who was also present in the bilateral talk.   

Addressing a press meet following the bilateral talk on Friday, Prime Minister Oli had thanked the Indian government for the support extended to Nepal for the reconstruction projects. “Nepali agencies are actively involved in the implementation of the reconstruction projects with the support of India, both under grant and loan,” he said. 

Right after the quake in 2015, India had pledged USD 1,000 million in assistance including USD 750 million in soft loan for post-quake reconstruction. However, the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) is yet to receive even a single penny of the pledged amount due to procedural difficulties and delay on the part of the Indian side. So, officials say, it sent a letter right to the Ministry of Finance ahead of the Indian Prime Minister’s visit to Nepal, asking it to request the Indian side to ease and expedite the process of releasing the pledged reconstruction aid. 

In the letter written to the finance ministry, the authority, citing a possible delay to complete the reconstruction works within the government set deadline, had asked the ministry to request the Indian side to provide USD 750 million soft loan directly to the government without attaching any strings and instead of channelizing it through the Export-Import Bank (Exim Bank). The Mumbai-based bank has already issued a Line of Credit for the USD 750 million soft loan.   

“We have just 32 months left to complete the overall reconstruction works as per the government’s deadline but so many reconstruction projects need to be completed. So, if we are to utilize the soft loan through the bank, the reconstruction works may be further delayed due to the complicated and lengthy procedures involved. So, we had asked the ministry to request the Indian side to simplify the process so that the NRA can spend money as per its priorities and finish reconstruction works on time,” spokesperson for NRA, Yam Lal Bhusal said. 

He also expressed optimism about the early release of the reconstruction aid pledged by India.

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