May 30, 2019 08:12 AM NPT
KATHMANDU, May 30: The government has earmarked Rs 141 billion in the new budget for post-earthquake-recovery programs across the earthquake-affected districts. The amount is Rs 15 billion less than than the funds sought by the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA).
According to the budget presented by Finance Minister Yuba Raj Khatiwada in parliament on Wednesday, the government will also identify if there are bona fide earthquake victims eligible for housing grants but were left out in the first survey. “Re-survey will be conducted in order to identify the victims who have not been included in the list of beneficiaries of the housing reconstruction and retrofitting grant,” Minister Khatiwada said.
Similarly, the government has prioritized the reconstruction of earthquake-hit structures belonging to educational institutions. “The reconstruction of educational institutions will be expedited in the fiscal year in partnership with the local communities,” Minister Khatiwada said. The NRA has said that 7,553 buildings of educational institutions were affected by the 2015 mega earthquakes and reconstruction of 55 percent (4,172 buildings) has already been completed. He also mentioned that construction of the Dharahara tower will be completed within the next two years.
The budget allocated for the reconstruction sector for the new fiscal year is seven percent less than the allocation for the current fiscal year. A total of Rs 151 billion had been allocated for reconstruction in fiscal year 2018/19 but only Rs 141 million has been allocated for fiscal year 2019/20.
The NRA officials, however, said reconstruction work will not be affected despite the reduced allocation. “We cannot comment on the budget until the details are published,” the deputy spokesperson of the authority Manohar Ghimire told Republica, “However, we hope that that the government will make arrangements to make up for any shortfall in reconstruction spending.”
According to NRA, so far the government has distributed the first tranche of Rs 50,000 of the private housing grant to 759,010 victims out of the total 825,439 identified as eligible for the grant across 31 quake-affected districts. Similarly, 572,010 victims have collected the second tranche and 414,364 have collected the third tranche.