Development partners optimistic

KATHMANDU, August 14

Development partners are upbeat about the post-earthquake reconstruction and development works gathering momentum, following the appointment of Govind Raj Pokharel as chief executive of the Reconstruction Authority on Thursday.

Even though the government has allocated Rs 17 billion for immediate rehabilitation and reconstruction works through the concerned ministries for the interim period, projects are yet to be designed as the Reconstruction Authority is yet to take full shape.

“The appointment of CEO in the Reconstruction Authority will expedite the reconstruction expenditure through well designed need-based projects,” opined Kenichi Yokoyama, country director for Nepal Resident Mission of Asian Development Bank. He advised the Authority to design priority-based projects and better contract management for early implementation of the projects.

Yokoyama further assured that the development partners and donor community will start disbursing the pledged amount to the government as the reconstruction works pick up pace.

The government has planned to spend Rs 91 billion — Rs 17 billion for interim arrangement and Rs 74 billion through reconstruction fund — in post-earthquake reconstruction and development works this fiscal. Though the government is yet to come up with a reconstruction policy, the recently appointed CEO of Reconstruction Authority Pokharel has said that the Authority has defined its role in developing projects in coordination with the concerned ministries — Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development, Ministry of Urban Development, Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, and Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport, among others — and will implement them through concerned departments and local bodies.

As per the provisions of the Reconstruction Ordinance, the Reconstruction Authority that is chaired by the Prime Minister has been envisaged as a powerful body. Some specific provisions like separate procurement arrangement for reconstruction projects, appointment and dismissal of staff based on their performance, authority to direct any government agency to implement the reconstruction project and recommend action against any staff or government agency if it feels they are not responding, are stated in the ordinance.

Johannes Zutt, country director of the World Bank Group, has also hailed the appointment of a CEO in the Reconstruction Authority. While signing $300 million loan assistance agreement for the post-earthquake reconstruction of Nepal, Zutt expressed his belief that the Authority will demonstrate exemplary performance in implementing reconstruction projects.

The positivity shown by the development partners has a special significance at a time when many had started to question the government’s seriousness in helping the country get back on its feet.

The Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) report prepared by the National Planning Commission in the wake of the devastating earthquake of April 25 had estimated the quake-inflicted damages and losses to be at $6.7 billion.

Unveiling the PDNA report, which is the main guideline to design and initiate reconstruction, the government had sought support for the recovery needs during International Conference for Nepal’s Reconstruction (ICNR) on June 25. During the conference, it had received $4.4 billion funding commitment from development partners.

The government aims to complete all reconstruction activities within five years.