European Union offers Rs 9.8bn aid package to Nepal

Kathmandu, April 27

The European Union (EU) is offering an aid package of Rs 9.8 billion (75 million euros) to Nepal to tackle the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and mitigate its impact. The support combines redirected existing commitments with new funds, granted in the form of budget support to allow the government direct and swift access to this financing.

“We hope that our contribution will support the efforts of the government to respond effectively to this crisis, so that the impact on the most vulnerable is reduced. International cooperation and solidarity are now more important than ever,” Veronica Cody, EU ambassador to Nepal has been quoted as saying in a media release.

Across the world, the EU is ensuring that partner countries are able to fight the coronavirus pandemic and its consequences. By combining resources from the EU, its member states, and European financial institutions, the EU has put together a ‘Team Europe’ package totalling more than 20 billion euros to support its partners’ immediate health responses to the coronavirus, as well as their economic recovery. The European Commission will also host, on May 4, a global online pledging conference to support the development of a vaccine.

In Nepal, the EU is mobilising Rs 9.8 billion (75 million euros) of which Rs 7.2 billion (55 million euros) is a reorientation of existing funds and Rs 2.6 billion (20 million euros) represents a new commitment. The EU’s support will be directed at two areas: Assisting the Nepali authorities to respond to the immediate health crisis and boosting the country’s economic response and recovery.

The EU will give Rs 1.6 billion (12 million euros) to support the government’s health and preparedness plan. These funds are being made available either by topping up resources for already existing projects focusing on the health sector, or by reorienting resources to other projects that would integrate health related activities and crisis response, including tackling gender-based violence.

Meanwhile, Rs 8.2 billion (62.6 million euros) will support the government’s response to the social and economic consequences of the pandemic. While the government’s strict measures to trace, isolate and treat the virus have so far helped to contain the health crisis, such measures will, as in all countries worldwide, have a negative economic impact. By stimulating

the economy and labour demand, through support to people’s incomes, employment retention and the extension of social protection programmes that assist the most vulnerable, the European Union hopes to assist the government’s economic recovery plan, the release adds.

The European Union has also contributed Rs 14.9 billion (113.5 million euros) to the World Health Organisation to support countries under particular strain and with weaker health systems, including Nepal.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on April 28, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.