Distribution of housing grant to earthquake survivors to start soon

Kathmandu, May 27

The National Reconstruction Authority (NRA), which had temporarily suspended distribution of housing grants to the earthquake survivors, is likely to resume this work soon, as banks and financial institutions (BFIs) have formally agreed to support the NRA in this regard.

An agreement to this extent was signed between the NRA, Nepal Bankers’ Association, Development Bankers’ Association and Nepal Financial Institutions Association today.

“As per the agreement, respective associations will have to identify working area of commercial banks, development banks and finance companies in various quake-affected districts, where the grant amount will be distributed, to ensure there is no duplication,” NRA Spokesperson Ram Prasad Thapaliya said.

Individual banks and financial institutions will then have to enter into separate agreements with the NRA prior to distributing the grant amount. These pacts must be sealed within a week, says a press statement issued by the NRA.

The NRA is distributing Rs 200,000 to every owner of a house destroyed by the earthquakes of last April and May. This grant amount is being released in three instalments of Rs 50,000, Rs 80,000 and Rs 70,000.

Although the process of distributing the first instalment of the grant began on March 13, it later came to a halt as the NRA took a long time to make necessary arrangements to distribute the funds through the banking channel.

As a result, only little more than 1,000 earthquake survivors out of hundreds of thousands of them have received the first instalment of Rs 50,000.

This delay has forced a majority of the quake survivors to spend days and nights in temporary shelters more than a year after the earthquakes struck the country.

Now, it is almost certain these people will remain stuck in those shelters during the coming monsoon as well, as they will not get adequate time to build new houses even if the grant amount is distributed now.

“We are aware of these problems and we hope the grant distribution process will move ahead in a rapid pace as we have reached an agreement with the umbrella bodies of the commercial banks, development banks and finance companies,” said Thapaliya.

In this regard, the NRA has already released around Rs 14 billion to 11 district development committees.

Soon, the NRA will also forward the list of grant beneficiaries to head offices of concerned BFIs. Based on this list, BFIs will have to open zero-deposit accounts, where the first instalment of the grant amount will be deposited upon recommendation of concerned village development committees and municipalities.

As per the agreement, branches of BFIs located in district headquarters should offer free service to 50 grant beneficiaries per day, while branches of BFIs located outside of district headquarters should provide free service to 20 grant beneficiaries per day.

Service provided to every additional grant beneficiary will entitle BFIs to service fee of Rs 225, says the statement. This fee will be provided by the NRA.